How to run a particle detector

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?

23rd June 2017

Is there life after physics?

Am I going to dedicate my entire life to high-energy physics? Am I qualified to work in another field, if I wish to? These are questions we may ask ourselves as we near the end of a contract. On Tuesday 29 November, the four experiments, ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and LHCb, organized a meeting with some of their former physicists who had decided to take the plunge into the business world.

2nd December 2016

The many faces of research

Ever since the age of 10, as far as I remember, I have been fascinated by technical and natural sciences, especially physics. I loved building (and repairing) experiments or things. As a result, in high school I happily attended an advanced course in physics and continued my studies at RWTH Aachen University (Germany).

17th October 2016

An exceptional summer

For many students, summer means sun and beach volleyball. For some, though, it is an opportunity to learn at ATLAS! Thanks to CERN’s Summer Student Programme, every year dozens of university students come to ATLAS to spend their holidays in this unique environment. During these three months they alternate between lectures and work, always supported by their supervisors. This summer, ATLAS hosted 50 students from 31 different countries. Here are some of their stories.

30th August 2016
30th August 2016

ICHEP results presented with style!

For those of you with an affinity for Twitter, you’ll know that the ICHEP press crew have been utilising all of their dark arts to bring you the most interesting results as they’re presented at ICHEP 2016.

8th August 2016

Meet 7 inspiring women from the ATLAS experiment

Women play key roles in the ATLAS Collaboration: from young physicists at the start of their careers to analysis group leaders and spokespersons of the collaboration. Celebrate International Women’s Day by meeting a few of these inspiring ATLAS researchers.

8th March 2016

A summer evening in the ATLAS control room

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.

4th August 2015

Identity problems

An obligatory eye scan is required for all ATLAS underground personnel entering the experimental cavern. The iris recognition is performed by the IrisID iCAM7000. Its only point in life is to keep track of who enters and leaves the Zone. It sounds like a simple task for such an advanced technology, but -- like most things in the world of research -- it's never without some hiccups.

25th July 2014
25th July 2014

A Few Missing Steps

After a long hiatus from US ATLAS, I recently started a new job at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. It's one of the few remaining labs in the US funded by the Department of Energy that does basic science research. It's the fourth job I've had in four years, all working on ATLAS, and all working on similar projects. This one is different, though: if I pass a performance review a few years from now, I'll have the lab-equivalent of tenure. I've had reactions ranging from "who did you have to kill to get that job" to "so who did you actually talk to to land that"?

7th August 2013
7th August 2013

Conversations on Shift

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.

26th May 2010

ATLAS celebrating the International Women's day!

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.

8th March 2010