What a start it's been to my first conference! I was lucky enough to join the 39th International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP), the biggest conference in High Energy Physics. About 1000 physicists are currently gathered in Seoul, presenting results from all across the field. Getting to visit South Korea plus hearing about cutting-edge physics sounded like a 5-star recipe to me!
Following the first “beam splash” tests in early-April, the ATLAS experiment awaited the next milestone on the road to data-taking: "stable beams". This is when the LHC proton beams are aligned, squeezed, focused and finally steered to collide head-to-head. It is an important test, as it allows us to verify that the collision mechanism is ready to take data that are good for physics studies.
Each year, around mid-spring, the giant LHC accelerator wakes up from its winter maintenance and gets ready for a new feverish period of data taking. But before smashing protons once again, some tests have to be done, to check that everything is in order and that the machine can accelerate and collide particles properly, as it did before the shutdown.
I met beautiful people in Los Angeles earlier this month: smart, talented students, all destined for great careers. They welcomed me to their high schools and their after-school programmes, all well-equipped with computing, electronics, a robotics lab and, above all, a brilliant staff of teachers.
This past Spring, I had the opportunity to travel to Taos, New Mexico, USA, to work with artist Agnes Chavez, on one of her “Projecting Particles” workshops. Her innovative programme aims to develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills in students aged 8 and up, employing a mixture of science education and artistic expression. It is a winning combination for everyone involved.
I have been doing some work with artists recently. Not that I’m planning a career change, you know: I just love to talk about my research to anyone who is prepared to listen, and lately it’s been with artists. Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, aka Semiconductor, are internationally renowned visual artists who in 2015 won the Collide@CERN Ars Electronica Award and spent a two-month residency at CERN. Like myself, they live in Brighton, which is also home to the University of Sussex, where I work.
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?
More than 400 physicists from around the world visiting Shanghai to hear the latest LHC results, at the fifth annual Large Hadron Collider Physics (LHCP17) conference. It was a wonderful opportunity for Chinese particle physicists and students, who do not often have the chance to travel abroad! Even for me, although I have been working on the LHC for almost 10 years, this was still my first time attending such a high-level conference to hear the first-rate physics results from all four experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.
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.
Here at ATLAS, we like to consider ourselves pretty decent at tracking down particles. In fact, we do it every day. Just because a proton-proton collision doesn’t produce the next Nobel Prize winning particle doesn’t mean we can ignore it. Teams of physicists are still combing through every single event, rebuilding known particles out of the signals they leave us