Blog

From ATLAS Around the World: The oldest observer state of CERN is no longer just observing!

If you have ever been to a bazaar in Turkey, you would know that you have to bargain hard and you have to carefully examine what you buy. Sometimes this attitude goes way too far. In our case about half a century… Turkey had been an observer state of CERN since 1961 but as of 6 May 2015.

Blog | 26th May 2015

From ATLAS Around the World: First blog from Hong Kong

Guess who ATLAS’ youngest member is? It’s Hong Kong! We will be celebrating our first birthday in June, 2015. The Hong Kong ATLAS team comprises members from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), under the the Joint Consortium for Fundamental Physics.

Blog | 19th May 2015

From ATLAS Around the World: African horizons

It’s great being back at CERN and being able to immerse myself in the tangible atmosphere of excited anticipation for the first collisions at 13 TeV this June. I am a South African, usually based in Durban — a city currently afflicted with xenophobically motivated riots and rolling blackouts. Being at CERN is really a different world right now, to a greater extent than usual.

Blog | 8th May 2015

From ATLAS Around the World: A view from Down Under

While ATLAS members at CERN were preparing for Run 2 during ATLAS week, and eagerly awaiting the beam to re-circulate the LHC, colleagues “down under” in Australia were having a meeting of their own. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP) is the hub of all things ATLAS in Australia.

Blog | 16th April 2015

From ATLAS Around the World: Preparing for Run 2 from Colombia

After a two-year stay at CERN, I moved back to Colombia in 2012. Being involved in ATLAS and working from Colombia has been a great experience for me; I get to continue contributing to the physics searches and also do other things like teaching, giving seminars, and doing outreach activities.

Blog | 9th April 2015

A week of firsts

The annual conference, Moriond, is in its 50th edition this year, and I’ve had the pleasure of coming down to Aosta in Italy to participate in the QCD session; for the first time. It’s actually a week of firsts for me. The conference organizers described it as being in a kind of “QCD confinement”.

Blog | 7th April 2015

Moriond Electroweak: physics, skiing and Italian food

If you’re a young physicist working in high energy physics, you realize very soon in your career that “going for Moriond” and “going to Moriond” are two different things, and that neither of the two means that you’re actually going to Moriond. This year’s “Moriond Electroweak” was held in the Italian mountain resort of La Thuile, and had a special significance.

Blog | 30th March 2015

The Ties That Bind

A few weeks ago, I found myself in one of the most beautiful places on earth: wedged between a metallic cable tray and a row of dusty cooling pipes at the bottom of Sector 13 of the ATLAS Detector at CERN. My wrists were scratched from hard plastic cable ties, I had an industrial vacuum strapped to my back, and my only light came from a battery powered LED fastened to the front of my helmet. It was beautiful.

Blog | 15th January 2015

The Art of Rediscovery

When I tell people I’m a particle physicist, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is: “So, have you discovered anything?” Funnily, I’ve spent much of the past two years trying to rediscover something that’s already been seen before. In today’s world, which fetishizes the New, this may seem slightly lame, but just because we’ve discovered something, doesn’t mean we’ve fully understood it.

Blog | 7th January 2015

Defending Your Life (Part 3)

This is the last part of my attempt to explain our simulation software. You can read Part 1, about event generators, and Part 2, about detector simulation, if you want to catch up. Just as a reminder, we’re trying to help our theorist friend by searching for his proposed “meons” in our data.

Blog | 28th October 2014

Defending Your Life (Part 2)

I’ve been working on our simulation software for a long time, and I’m often asked “what on earth is that?” This is my attempt to help you love simulation as much as I do.

Blog | 20th October 2014

Doing Physics in Vietnam

One of the perks of working in our field is the opportunities we get to go to exotic places for conferences. I always felt the HEP-MAD conference in Madagascar would top this list, but the one some of us went to in Vietnam can't be too far behind. The Rencontres du Vietnam conference series has been organised in the coastal town of Quy Nhon since 2011, covering different physics topics. This year, one of them was titled Physics at the LHC and Beyond, where I had the privilege of presenting ATLAS soft QCD results.

Blog | 7th October 2014

Defending Your Life (Part 1)

Having spent many hours working on the simulation software in ATLAS, I thought this would be a good place to explain what on earth that is (H/T to Al Brooks for the title). Our experiment wouldn’t run without the simulation, and yet there are few people who really understand it.

Blog | 5th October 2014

Identity problems

An obligatory eye scan is required for all ATLAS underground personnel entering the experimental cavern. The iris recognition is performed by the IrisID iCAM7000. Its only point in life is to keep track of who enters and leaves the Zone. It sounds like a simple task for such an advanced technology, but -- like most things in the world of research -- it's never without some hiccups.

Blog | 25th July 2014

Taking stock at the LHCP conference

I felt like I was returning home as I walked through the gates of Columbia University at 116th Street and Broadway, the day before the LHCP conference began. The scaffolding from the recently completed graduation ceremonies reminded me of my own PhD graduation thirteen years ago. The ubiquitous Columbia-blue signs of "Welcome back Alumni" seemed to be talking just to me.

Blog | 17th June 2014

LHCPlanning for the future

As someone who comes from a small mountain town, for many years I've linked the word 'summer' to 'seaside' and 'sun'. During my experience as a physicist working in ATLAS, I found myself associating the word 'conferences' to the word 'summer' more often than to the two above.

Blog | 16th June 2014

Notes from Underground: IBL vs Brazil Championship

Previously in Notes from Underground, Dave Robinson wrote in some detail about the work going on inside the ATLAS Detector, and Clara Nellist wrote about the inner detector of ATLAS, discussing the different types of detection units or Sensors (Planars & 3D). I will continue to delve into the exciting world of the inner detector with its brand new Insertable B-Layer (IBL) and its related parts.

Blog | 9th June 2014

Notes from underground: Pixel prototypes

In last week’s post for this Notes from Underground series, David talked about the work that goes on in the ATLAS pit. I'm going to take a step back and talk about what happens before a detector is installed. Although the work I want to tell you about didn't technically take place underground, much of it was performed in what is essentially a large airport hangar without natural light, so it certainly feels like you’re 100m down!

Blog | 27th May 2014

Notes from Underground: Servicing Silicon

We physicists refer to the vast underground cavern that houses the ATLAS experiment as ‘the pit’. That may be a strange term to use for a marvel of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, but nonetheless there are parallels to what you might imagine a ‘pit’ to be. Working inside the ATLAS detector in the pit can be dark, sometimes hot and not suited to those with claustrophobia. It often involves climbing several sets of makeshift steps and gantries and crawling flat on your stomach through narrow gaps to get to the part of the detector where you need to be. You will be wearing a safety helmet with mounted lamp, steel toe-cap shoes, one or more dosimeters to monitor radiation exposure and even a harness, if working at heights. Not to mention tools, laptop and any equipment you need to do your job. You tend to recognize the experimental physicists, engineers and technicians who have just come up from the pit – they stand blinking in the sunlight with a tired and rather sweaty appearance.

Blog | 14th May 2014

Unread section opened in the Standard Model book

While others are worrying that new physics might be running out of corners (see Eve Le Ménédeu's blog) we should not forget that even within the book of the Standard Model there are completely unread chapters. The Standard Model draws its success from the fascinating fact that its basic energy density formula, called Lagrangian, is uniquely defined by just specifying three fundamental symmetries.

Blog | 30th March 2014

Is new physics running out of corners?

Friday was the last occasion for Moriond participants to see new results on specific physics topics since Saturday is reserved for summary talks. The topic was 'Beyond the Standard Model' -- a very large subject, which covers an incredible number of theoretical models, from Supersymmetry to Two-Higgs-Doublet Models, two of the most discussed topics of the day.

Blog | 24th March 2014

Dark Matters

The winter conference season is well under way, and what better way to fill my first blog post than with a report from one of the premier conferences in particle and astroparticle physics: the Rencontres de Moriond.

Blog | 24th March 2014

The Neutrino Puzzle

Having explored the latest results on what we call 'heavy flavour' or physics of particles containing a b-quark (see The Penguin Domination by Jessica Levêque), we embarked on a much lighter subject: neutrinos.

Blog | 22nd March 2014

No matter how hard you try... Standard is standard

The past two days of the Recontres de Moriond 2014 Electroweak conference have been very intense with many new experimental results, many insightful theoretical talks and many lively discussions. Since the topics cover neutrino experiments, astrophysical observations and Standard Model precision measurements, giving a summary is not an easy task. But I will try.

Blog | 22nd March 2014

The Penguin Domination

This week features the 2014 Moriond Electroweak conference at La Thuile, Italy. More than a 100 particle physicists gather from all around the world. Started 50 years ago, this conference is still very valued, year after year, due to the high quality of the talks. The Moriond winter conference is one of the most exciting conferences, as all the particle physics experiments present their brand new results, but it is also appealing because of the mountains and the great Italian food.

Blog | 18th March 2014