ATLAS Blog

The power of perception

16th November 2011 – If you ask a child to draw a physicist, they’ll usually draw you a disheveled man in a lab coat. But looking around the hundreds of physicists eating lunch at CERN today, I saw many women, only one or two that could be classified as disheveled, and zero lab coats. Yet this image persists.

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ATLAS in Paris for a pop-up launch

15th November 2011 – It’s not every day you get to explain ATLAS to a group of journalists with just a pop-up book as a prop. But, as some readers might already know, this is no ordinary pop-up book. ATLAS and the LHC leap from the page in incredible detail thanks to paper engineer Anton Radevsky’s wonderful designs. A new edition of the book has just been released in French, so at the end of last month I found myself travelling in to the centre of Paris from Orsay for the press launch.

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The longest shift

1st November 2011 – 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.

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Dispatch from the dispatch: Musings from the Tevatron’s final run

11th October 2011 – The first time I drove to Fermilab as a grad student, I got kind of lost. However, once I remembered my adviser’s words of advice, it was suddenly easy to find the strangely shaped Wilson Hall, a.k.a. “the highrise sticking out of the Prairies”. During my PhD years with the CDF Collaboration, I went there many a time – to attend meetings, to take shifts. The Chicago area summers were harsh, and so were the winters. On early morning shifts over the Christmas week, I realized that all too well. CDF had over five hundred collaborators at that time and this was my first introduction to a big experiment. Despite its size, everyone still seemed to know each other and it was one big happy family.

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The Tevatron: Goodnight but not goodbye

3rd October 2011 – The Tevatron collider, the scientific predecessor of the LHC, was shut down last Friday after 26 years of operations. Situated at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) outside of Chicago, Illinois, the Tevatron collided protons with antiprotons at a center-of-mass energy just shy of 2 TeV. While it still held the title of the world’s highest energy colliding beams, it was the intellectual home of hundreds of scientists and students working as part of the CDF and D0 collaborations.

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“La Nuit des Chercheurs” (Researchers’ Night)

28th September 2011 – Evening, Friday September 23rd. I came from Saclay (near Paris) to participate in the ‘Researchers’ Night’ event taking place across CERN as part of the European Researchers’ Night initiative. Students aged 13 to 18 were on their way from all around the local area to learn about what on earth it is we do at the mysterious “Point 1” – ATLAS’s home on the LHC ring. Three different groups of 10 or so students were to stay with the ATLAS team in the experiment’s control room from 6:00 p.m. until midnight, helping shifters to take data and monitor the experiment…

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ATLAS never sleeps

21st September 2011 – Working in an international laboratory like CERN is incredibly exciting, and I’m not just talking about Higgs hunting. People in the outside world are endlessly curious about what happens on the sprawling two-kilometre-long site, and I get asked all kinds of questions, ranging from the funny to the profound.

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Re-hashing reconstruction

10th September 2011 – Now that the big summer conferences are under our belts, we’re busy reprocessing the data ATLAS has taken so far in 2011. The raw data we collect at ATLAS – basically millions of electrical signal values from the different bits of the detector – has to be treated (‘reconstructed’) to turn it into meaningful physics data that can be analyzed for signs of new physics.

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Ars Atlastronica

6th September 2011 – So I’m back from the Ars Electronica 2011 festival in Linz, Austria. This year the guest of honor was CERN, to kickstart a cultural partnership which will endure over the next three years. The event was amazing, and the organization spotless. As Claudia mentioned in a previous post, CERN was well represented visually at the festival, mainly via a strong display of ATLAS multimedia throughout the many exhibit halls and events.

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