Connecting during COVID-19: Updates from the (physically but not socially distanced) Early Career Scientist Board

1st July 2020 – As a community, we need to stay in contact, remain motivated and learn from each other's experiences. The work-from-home situation is one to which everyone has to adjust, balancing personal and professional lives, while accepting the effect of the ongoing pandemic on society. Despite these challenges, the ATLAS Early Career Scientist Board (ECSB) developed a series of events to boost the morale of the ECS community and to help people connect, even when they are sitting miles away from each other. I joined the ATLAS ECSB in March 2020, and to be honest, it has felt great to be a part of something that makes a difference in people’s lives – even if it’s just to laugh together. 

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You want me to present a poster…. remotely?

22nd June 2020 – Though an academic affair, poster sessions are also an opportunity to network and socialise with colleagues. Typically, a large hall will be filled with rows of poster stands, their authors standing anxiously beside them, anticipating whatever question may be posed by a passer-by. Finger food and drinks are usually served. Sometimes these encounters lead to in-depth discussions about a new result but, more often than not, they just serve as ice-breakers for would-be colleagues, or a kind of “physics buffet” for conference attendees to sample subjects outside their specialization. Could such an experience be recreated in an online conference?

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In conversation with Claudia Gemme, an influential voice in ATLAS detector upgrades

15th June 2020 – Claudia Gemme, researcher at INFN in Genova, has had a varied career with the ATLAS Collaboration. From her work on the construction and commissioning of the ATLAS Pixel detector, to a career in physics analysis and the ATLAS Publication Committee, she now leads a key upgrade of the ATLAS detector: the ATLAS Inner Tracker (ITk).

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Physicists gather online for the Large Hadron Collider Physics conference

30th May 2020 – The eighth Large Hadron Collider Physics (LHCP 2020) conference concluded today, 30 May, in Zoom rooms around the world. Instead of descending on Paris to meet, particle physicists held the conference fully online for the first time. As a result, LHCP 2020 welcomed some 1300 registered participants – nearly triple its previous record of attendance. A bumper crop of new ATLAS results were prepared for the conference covering a broad range of topics, from precise measurements of the Standard Model to novel searches for new physics. These new results probed the full dataset collected during Run 2 of the LHC (2015-2018) – a proven gold mine for ATLAS’ rich physics programme.

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New ATLAS result addresses long-standing tension in the Standard Model

28th May 2020 – This week, at the LHCP 2020 conference, the ATLAS Collaboration presented a precise measurement of lepton flavour universality using a brand-new technique. Physicists examined collision events where pairs of top quarks decay to pairs of W bosons, and subsequently into leptons. They then measured the relative probability that this lepton is a muon or a tau-lepton – a ratio known as R(τ/μ). According to the Standard Model, R(τ/μ) should be unity – but there has been long-standing tension with this prediction, ever since it was measured at the Large Electron-Positron (LEP) collider in the 1990s. 

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Fantastic decays and where to find them

27th May 2020 – Supersymmetry offers an elegant solution to the limitations of the Standard Model, extending it to give each elementary particle a “superpartner” with different spin properties. Yet SUSY also contains interactions that would cause phenomena not observed in nature, such as the decay of protons. This has traditionally been avoided by requiring the conservation of a property known as “R-parity” (or “matter-parity”), which incorporates the baryon number, lepton number and spin. ATLAS physicists are also considering SUSY models with R-parity violation (or “RPV”), which would allow the lightest SUSY particle to be observed decaying directly into Standard Model particles.

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ATLAS finds evidence of spectacular four-top quark production

26th May 2020 – In a new result released today, the ATLAS Collaboration announced strong evidence of the production of four top quarks. This rare Standard Model process is expected to occur only once for every 70 thousand pairs of top quarks created at the LHC and has proven extremely difficult to measure.

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ATLAS measures light scattering on light and constrains axion-like particles

25th May 2020 – Light-by-light scattering is a very rare phenomenon in which two photons – particles of light – interact, producing another pair of photons. Direct observation of this process at high energy had proven elusive for decades, until it was first seen by the ATLAS Collaboration in 2016 and established in 2019. In a new measurement, ATLAS physicists are using light-by-light scattering to search for a hyped phenomenon beyond the Standard Model of particle physics: axion-like particles.

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Summary of new ATLAS results from LHCP 2020

25th May 2020 – The eighth annual conference on Large Hadron Collider physics (LHCP 2020) kicks off today in video-conference rooms around the world. This week-long event is usually an opportunity for physicists from around the world to meet in person and share the latest news from their LHC experiments. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference is being held online.

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Machine learning qualitatively changes the search for new particles

13th May 2020 – The ATLAS Collaboration is exploring novel ways to search for new phenomena. Alongside an extensive research programme often inspired by specific theoretical models – ranging from quantum black holes to supersymmetry – physicists are applying new model-independent methods to broaden their searches. ATLAS has just released the first model-independent search for new particles using a novel technique called “weak supervision”.

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