One week to do it all – Day 2: Elastic data-taking

17th February 2016 – No time to waste after the alignment. We had moved the detectors to about 2.8 mm from the beam, but the rates of particles passing the detectors indicated a very high background (mainly particles from the beam halo) so we decided to move the detectors out to about 3.5 mm. Now it was time for data taking. Since the detectors were so close to the beam, the LHC could not declare “Stable Beam”. Therefore ATLAS was prepared to manually override the normal safety feature, which only allows the tracking detectors to be powered fully once the LHC declares “Stable Beam”.

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One week to do it all – Day 1: Setting up

16th February 2016 – I have the pleasure to work for a very special sub-detector of ATLAS, called “Absolute luminosity For ATLAS” or ALFA in short. ALFA aims to measure protons at very small angles relative to the beam. To measure these small angles, ALFA is installed on the beam pipe about 240 m away from the interaction point (IP) of ATLAS. The ALFA detectors can move inside the beam pipe in order to get very close to the beam. The detector is only used a few days out of the year when LHC is running with a very special beam setup.

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The hills are alive, with the sound of gravitational waves

15th February 2016 – It’s 16:00 CET at CERN and I’m sitting in the CERN Main Auditorium. The room is buzzing with excitement, not unlike the day in 2012 when the Higgs discovery was announced in this very room. But today the announcement is not from CERN, but the LIGO experiment which is spread across two continents. Many expect the announcement to be about a discovery of gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein in 1916, but which have remained elusive until today…

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Top 2015: Mass, momentum and the conga

24th September 2015The top quark conference normally follows the same basic structure. The first few days are devoted to reports on the general status of the field and inclusive measurements; non-objectionable stuff that doesn’t cause controversy. The final few days are given over to more focused analyses; the sort of results that professors really enjoy arguing about. 

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The poster session, two hours in

TOP 2015: Top quarks come to Italy!

16th September 2015The annual top conference! This year we’re in Ischia, Italy. The hotel is nice, the pool is tropical and heated, but you don’t want to hear about that, you want to hear about the latest news in the Standard Model’s heaviest and coolest particle, the top quark! You won’t be disappointed.

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Lepton-Photon Conference Participants

Leptons & photons meet dragons, castles and multiverses in Ljubljana

4th September 2015The XXVII edition of this classic conference (Lepton-Photon) brought together more than 200 scientists from around the world in the lovely city of Ljubljana, Slovenia. This year’s edition was a bit special, as it featured poster presentations that gave young researchers (including many ATLAS members) the opportunity to show their work. 

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Lepton Photon 2015: Into the dragon’s lair

29th August 2015 – This was my first time in Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia – a nation rich with forests and lakes, and the only country that connects the Alps, the Mediterranean and the Pannonian Plain. The slight rain was not an ideal welcome, but knowing that such an important conference that was to be held there – together with a beautiful evening stroll – relaxed my mind.

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