A look back at the EPS

30 July 2011 | By

Altarelli's Warning
A talk during the EPS-HEP 2011 in Grenoble. (Image: ATLAS Experiment/CERN)

I happened to run into Andrey Korytov after his eagerly awaited CMS Higgs talk. No, CMS had not yet seen the Higgs, and ATLAS could breathe a sigh of relief. I have known Andrey since my CDF and Florida days and when I offered my congratulations for showing a nice result, he gave a quick smile and said that all the experiments have done really well. This remark, I felt, captured the spirit of the conference. It had indeed featured intense interaction and discussions between different experiments, with everyone appreciating mutual hard work and dedication.

Over 700 of us descended upon the not-so-small town of Grenoble last week, for the first big conference after LHC delivered 1 inverse femtobarn of data. While the Higgs session predictably generated the most buzz, there were a lot of exciting new results all around. The organizers had to move the Astroparticle physics session to a bigger room, and the quantum chromodynamis (QCD) session where I gave a talk was always full.

Such big meetings always have too many people, but it is also a great chance for young students to catch a glimpse of the world beyond their own experiments. As I caught up with a few CDF folks, reminiscing about the old times, students from ATLAS joined the discussion, and were regaled with stories from CDF. We carried pagers then (I am told that even now they are used), and there were only 3-4 shifters at a time (and plenty of food brought by the shift leader, called the sci-co, pronounced as "psycho") in the control room – someday ATLAS will reach this level of efficiency.

The organizers made sure that we got enough time for such invigorating, informal conversations. After the excellent cheese and wine at the inauguration, most of us needed no dinner. The mesmerizing French Opera and the games of soccer were the other highlights of the conference. Grenoble, on its own, is a charming old town and we were treated to a stunning view of it from the cable car going to the top of the mountain. Apart from that, there were plenty of choices for a Sunday excursion, and we were kept wondering if the people choosing to go paragliding would ever come back. We even got to see the "Tour the France", as a stage was held in town then.

Finally we wrapped up with talks by heads of Fermilab, KEK and CERN, and David Gross making ten bold predictions he thinks will come true in the next ten years. Personally, I will be interested to see if theoretical models of soft-QCD emerge, which was number one on his list. He did get about half of his predictions right from 1993, so that gives me hope!

And the paragliders did come back, after all.