Control Room

ATLAS on track for 2018 data taking

It’s kick off at the Large Hadron Collider! Proton beams are circulating once again in the accelerator, marking the start of a new year of exploration for the ATLAS experiment.

31st March 2018

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

A busy day in the life of high energy physicist

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.

27th June 2016

An insider view of the "marten affair"

Friday morning, 29 April 2016: what was expected to be a productive shift turned out to be very different.

7th June 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

Impressions from the control room

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...

17th June 2015

Coordination for collisions

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.

14th May 2015

The Symphony of ATLAS

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.

23rd June 2014

The longest shift

The clock just turned 2:00 a.m., again, on LHC Page One – the machine’s online status viewer – and I’m pondering just how I ended up on the longest shift of the year. I normally love this evening, snuggling under a warm comforter for that extra hour of late-autumn sleep. But, this year, on the very hour we ‘fall back’, I am cuddling with the controls of ATLAS’s 46 meter long muon spectrometer, a bar of chocolate and an extra cup of coffee. So be it.

1st November 2011
1st November 2011

Frantic for femtobarns...

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!

19th August 2011

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

A titan awakes

At approximately 2:40 am Central European Time, ATLAS saw particles from the LHC for the first time in 2010. As in previous LHC turn-on periods the first thing we see are beam splashes from the LHC beams as they slowly thread the beam through the LHC ring for the first time.

1st March 2010
1st March 2010

The calm before the storm

The Control Room is quiet. The configurations are set. The trigger menu is uploaded. The shifters are ready. All that is left is for the LHC to deliver beam.

27th February 2010

Development of the ATLAS control room

The ATLAS control room will become the brain of the detector operations. At the moment six of the final fifteen stations are already in place.

15th December 2006