Updates tagged: “Control Room”
If you are interested in particle physics, you probably hear a lot about the huge amount of data that is recorded by experiments like ATLAS. But where does this data come from? Roughly speaking: first you have to plan, build and maintain an experiment and in the end you need people to analyse the data you’ve recorded. But what happens in between? What happens in the day-to-day life of people in the ATLAS control room, who are responsible for keeping all that great data coming?
My work involves analyzing data to try to understand how nature works at the most fundamental level, by searching for new particles and ways in which they interact. Specifically, I am looking at the top quark, which is the heaviest fundamental particle known to exist, with a mass of about 180 times that of a proton.
Friday morning, 29 April 2016: what was expected to be a productive shift turned out to be very different.
The sun has already set over Geneva when I finally walk out from the ATLAS control room. We have been waiting for beams to be injected into the machine since the early hours of the afternoon, but without much success so far. Just a regular day for the most ambitious particle accelerator mankind has ever built, but a pretty boring afternoon for our entire shift crew.
As final preparations were made for the start of the Large Hadron Collider's (LHC) Run 2, the ATLAS Control Room was the centre of activity. Here are images from the three days that were landmark events...
There is the Large Hadron Collider and then there are its experiments. When the collider is ready to circulate proton beams, the experiments have to be ready to receive them.
Bringing the nine-storey high, many-layered ATLAS detector back to life and preparing it for the Large Hadron Collider's next run is a complex task. Each sub-detector is setup and thoroughly tested before they are joined and the detector as a whole can begin recording data again.
In particle physics, we describe the number of interesting particle collisions that we have in our data in terms of the "integrated luminosity", which is measured in units called inverse femtobarns. In the whole of 2010, the LHC delivered about 0.04 inverse femtobarns (about 3 million million collisions). Nowadays, it can deliver twice that in a single day!
When the detector is running smoothly, neighbors in the ATLAS control room sometimes get conversational. A few days back I was on shift, quietly looking at plots on the monitor in front of me, trying to decide if one small sensor was misbehaving or not. “I have a question,” the shifter next to me said.
Today ATLAS celebrates the role of women in physics its own way. ATLAS has encouraged its staff and users to place as many women as possible on shift in the control room and to serve as guides for official visits.