As a young physicist not many conferences have the same mystical status as Rencontres de Moriond. This gathering of physicists from all areas of particle physics is one of most anticipated events of the year. More a gathering than a conference, Moriond started in 1966 and has inspired many similar events. Presentations, time for discussion and recreation is combined to inspire and foster collaboration and new ideas. Another element is the meeting between young and more experienced scientists. Nearly half of the talks are given by young participants below 35 like myself. I was invited by the ATLAS collaboration to present our latest results on a search for a type of long-lived particles that has meant a lot to me for the last two years.
The particles are called R-Hadrons, or perhaps they will be – because at the moment they are just an idea about what Nature can potentially give us if the world is super-symmetric or contains extra dimensions. These particles are pretty crazy, not only are they very very heavy (much heavier than the top quark or the yet to be discovered Higgs boson) but they also live longer than most particles. Even stranger they can "flip" their electrical charge if they pass through material. So all in all some very strange particles, but also very interesting to look for.
In ATLAS there are quite a few of us working on this kind of search, so presenting the work is not simply a personal effort; the results are made in collaboration between many people creating the analysis, not to mention all the work that goes into running the experiment. Because we always publish together, presentations like mine must be approved and agreed upon by the rest of the collaboration, meaning that they have to be thoroughly worked out before the talk. In the next post I will talk about the preparations and my first impressions of the place itself, now I have to catch my flight!