Letters from the Road
I've been lucky to get to make two workshop / conference stops on a trip that started at the very beginning of October. The first was at Kinematic Variables for New Physics, hosted at Caltech. Now I'm up at the Computing in High Energy Physics conference in Amsterdam. Going to conferences and workshops is a big part of what we do, in order to explain our work to others and share what great things we're doing, in order to hear the latest on other people's work, and - and this one is important - in order to get to talk with colleagues about what we should do next.
Blog | 18th October 2013
Snowmass from Afar
There's a (potentially) really big deal in physics that's just ended: the Snowmass conference. Ken over at the USLHC blog has already mentioned it, and I've been watching with interest from here in Geneva as well. The meeting, and its reports, are trying to walk an extrodinarily delicate line that's interesting for both the physics and the sociology involved.
Blog | 12th August 2013
A Few Missing Steps
After a long hiatus from US ATLAS, I recently started a new job at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. It's one of the few remaining labs in the US funded by the Department of Energy that does basic science research. It's the fourth job I've had in four years, all working on ATLAS, and all working on similar projects. This one is different, though: if I pass a performance review a few years from now, I'll have the lab-equivalent of tenure. I've had reactions ranging from "who did you have to kill to get that job" to "so who did you actually talk to to land that"?
Blog | 7th August 2013
Want a small scale LEGO® version of the ATLAS detector?
A small scale version of the ATLAS detector can be made available as an official LEGO® product, but I need people to vote for it at LEGO Cuusoo. We need 10,000 votes to be considered by LEGO®.
Blog | 13th June 2013
Report from DIS 2013
The series of workshops named "Deep Inelastic Scattering (DIS)" started way back in Durham, UK in 1993. In the last twenty years, particle physics has evolved in many ways, and this years DIS held at Marseille between April 22-26th was a testament to that fact. While it was one of the biggest conference in terms of Standard Model physics talks from ATLAS, it included talks and latest results covering the full ATLAS (and other big LHC experiments) physics program.
Blog | 7th May 2013
TOP 2012 - Part 2
Welcome back, dedicated top quark enthusiast. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats for an update from TOP 2012, and I can now confirm that a combined team of LHC & Tevatron physicists narrowly beat a mixed team of physicists from LHC & Tevatron at croquet.
Blog | 26th September 2012
TOP 2012 - Part 1
Greetings from the TOP 2012 conference, Winchester UK! What’s a ‘Winchester’ I hear you asking? A type of gun? Indeed yes, though sadly not of the smoking variety that we’re all so keen to find. However in this particular case Winchester is a historical town in the south of England, complete with the typical rolling green fields, a cathedral, and the not so typical contingent of visiting physicists!
Blog | 18th September 2012
What should we know about the Higgs particle?
On the 4th of July, CERN announced the discovery of a new particle that can be interpreted as the Higgs boson with both the ATLAS and CMS experiments. Since this is one of the most important discoveries over the last 10 or 20 years in particle physics, let’s have a look to the full story.
Blog | 15th August 2012
Melbourne Dispatch: A First Coming To Terms with Discovery
Where to begin? The 4th of July, 2012 will remain burned in the memories of those of us fortunate to be delegates at this historic 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics (#ICHEP2012) in beautiful Melbourne, Australia.
Blog | 9th July 2012
Very exciting day at CERN about the Higgs??!
Good morning science addicts and everyone! What a special day at CERN today! Indeed, the ATLAS and CMS experiments have just released some outstanding results and observations about the search for the Higgs boson, and the ATLAS and CMS spokespersons (Fabiola Gianotti, and Joe Incandela) just presented those results in the main auditorium at 9 a.m (CERN time).
Blog | 4th July 2012
Needle in a haystack
The LHC is designed to collide bunches of protons every 25 ns, i.e., at a 40 MHz rate (40 million/second). In each of these collisions, something happens. Since there is no way we can collect data at this rate, we try to pick only the interesting events, which occur very infrequently; however, this is easier said than done. Experiments like ATLAS employ a very sophisticated filtering system to keep only those events that we are interested in. This is called the trigger system, and it works because the interesting events have unique signatures that can be used to distinguish them from the uninteresting ones.
Blog | 16th March 2012
Moriond day 2: Inverse time dilation
I work with crazy particles. Dark matter is pretty weird, so are neutrinos seemingly, but what I search for blows it all away. Tuesday was the day of my presentation. The format for these young scientist presentations are 5 minutes and time for a single question afterwards. Trying to present a full picture of any analysis in that short a time is impossible; instead the idea is more like handing out a business card telling the audience what you work on in the hope that some will be interested and contact you informally afterwards.
Blog | 6th March 2012
Moriond day 1: The outer limits
Not many trips take you to all ends of the world in one day, but that was nevertheless how it felt after the first talks at Moriond. Sunday and Monday have mainly featured presentations on neutrino and dark matter physics. Many of these experiments are placed in remote regions or deep under ground.
Blog | 5th March 2012
As a young physicist not many conferences have the same mystical status as Rencontres de Moriond. This gathering of physicists from all areas of particle physics is one of most anticipated events of the year. More a gathering than a conference, Moriond started in 1966 and has inspired many similar events. Presentations, time for discussion and recreation is combined to inspire and foster collaboration and new ideas. Another element is the meeting between young and more experienced scientists. Nearly half of the talks are given by young participants below 35 like myself. I was invited by the ATLAS collaboration to present our latest results on a search for a type of long-lived particles that has meant a lot to me for the last two years.
Blog | 3rd March 2012
From 0-60 in 10 million seconds! – Part 2
This is continuing from the previous post, where I discussed how we convert data collected by ATLAS into usable objects. Here I explain the steps to get a Physics result. I can now use our data sample to prove/disprove the predictions of Supersymmetry (SUSY), string theory or what have you. What steps do I follow?
Blog | 19th February 2012
From 0-60 in 10 million seconds! – Part 1
OK, so I’ll try to give a flavour of how the data that we collect gets turned into a published result. As the title indicates, it takes a while! The post got very long, so I have split it in two parts. The first will talk about reconstructing data, and the second will explain the analysis stage.
Blog | 17th February 2012
7 or 8 TeV, a thousand terabyte question!
A very happy new year to the readers of this blog. As we start 2012, hoping to finally find the elusive Higgs boson and other signatures of new physics, an important question needs to be answered first - are we going to have collisions at a center of mass energy of 7 or 8 TeV?
Blog | 11th February 2012
Tweeting live #Higgs boson updates from #CERN
“If it’s just a fluctuation of background, it will take a lot of data to kill.” Dr. Fabiola Gianotti, spokesperson for the ATLAS collaboration, made this statement on Dec. 13, 2011 during a special seminar I attended at CERN. Within the minute that followed, I hurriedly concocted a tweet, tacked on #Higgs and #CERN hashtags, and sent Fabiola’s weighty comment out onto the WWW.
Blog | 11th February 2012
Joining forces in the search for the Higgs
Today we witnessed a landmark LHC first: At the HCP conference in Paris, friendly rivals, the ATLAS and CMS collaborations, came together to present a joint result! This ATLAS-CMS combined Higgs search was motivated by the fact that pooling the dataset increases our chances of excluding or finding the Higgs boson over those of a single experiment. This is the first example of this kind of scientific collaboration at the LHC, and the success of the whole endeavor hinged on a whole host of thorny issues being tackled…
Blog | 25th November 2011