It’s great being back at CERN and being able to immerse myself in the tangible atmosphere of excited anticipation for the first collisions at 13 TeV this June. I am a South African, usually based in Durban — a city currently afflicted with xenophobically motivated riots and rolling blackouts. Being at CERN is really a different world right now, to a greater extent than usual.
While ATLAS members at CERN were preparing for Run 2 during ATLAS week, and eagerly awaiting the beam to re-circulate the LHC, colleagues “down under” in Australia were having a meeting of their own. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP) is the hub of all things ATLAS in Australia.
After a two-year stay at CERN, I moved back to Colombia in 2012. Being involved in ATLAS and working from Colombia has been a great experience for me; I get to continue contributing to the physics searches and also do other things like teaching, giving seminars, and doing outreach activities.
The annual conference, Moriond, is in its 50th edition this year, and I’ve had the pleasure of coming down to Aosta in Italy to participate in the QCD session; for the first time. It’s actually a week of firsts for me. The conference organizers described it as being in a kind of “QCD confinement”.
If you’re a young physicist working in high energy physics, you realize very soon in your career that “going for Moriond” and “going to Moriond” are two different things, and that neither of the two means that you’re actually going to Moriond. This year’s “Moriond Electroweak” was held in the Italian mountain resort of La Thuile, and had a special significance.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in one of the most beautiful places on earth: wedged between a metallic cable tray and a row of dusty cooling pipes at the bottom of Sector 13 of the ATLAS Detector at CERN. My wrists were scratched from hard plastic cable ties, I had an industrial vacuum strapped to my back, and my only light came from a battery powered LED fastened to the front of my helmet. It was beautiful.
When I tell people I’m a particle physicist, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is: “So, have you discovered anything?” Funnily, I’ve spent much of the past two years trying to rediscover something that’s already been seen before. In today’s world, which fetishizes the New, this may seem slightly lame, but just because we’ve discovered something, doesn’t mean we’ve fully understood it.
This is the last part of my attempt to explain our simulation software. You can read Part 1, about event generators, and Part 2, about detector simulation, if you want to catch up. Just as a reminder, we’re trying to help our theorist friend by searching for his proposed “meons” in our data.
I’ve been working on our simulation software for a long time, and I’m often asked “what on earth is that?” This is my attempt to help you love simulation as much as I do.
One of the perks of working in our field is the opportunities we get to go to exotic places for conferences. I always felt the HEP-MAD conference in Madagascar would top this list, but the one some of us went to in Vietnam can't be too far behind. The Rencontres du Vietnam conference series has been organised in the coastal town of Quy Nhon since 2011, covering different physics topics. This year, one of them was titled Physics at the LHC and Beyond, where I had the privilege of presenting ATLAS soft QCD results.