Day 2 At CERN

Day 2 of my visit to CERN (host laboratory of the Large Hadron Collider [LHC]) was a pretty typical CERN day for me. Here’s a rough sketch of how it panned out:

  • 1000: after a few chores, arrived at CERN by tram. Worked on my ongoing research project #1. Answered an email about my ongoing research project #2.
  • 1100: attended a one hour talk, much of it historical, by Chris Quigg, one of the famous experts on “quarkonium” (atom-like objects made from a quark or anti-quark, generally referring specifically to charm and bottom quarks). Charmonium (charm quark/antiquark atoms) was discovered 40 years ago this week, in two very different experiments.
  • 1200: Started work on the talk that I am giving on the afternoon of Day 3 to some experimentalists who work at ATLAS. [ATLAS and CMS are the two general-purpose experimental detectors at the LHC; they were used to discover the Higgs particle.] It involves some new insights concerning the search for long-lived particles (hypothesized types of new particles that would typically decay only after having traveled a distance of at least a millimeter, and possibly a meter or more, before they decay to other particles.)
  • 1230: Working lunch with an experimentalist from ATLAS and another theorist, mainly discussing triggering, and other related issues, concerning long-lived particles. Learned a lot about the new opportunities that ATLAS will have starting in 2015.
  • 1400: In an extended discussion with two other theorists, got a partial answer to a subtle question that arose in my research project #2.
  • 1415: Sent an email to my collaborators on research project #2.
  • 1430: Back to work on my talk for Day 3. Reading some relevant papers, drawing some illustrations, etc.
  • 1600: Two-hour conversation over coffee with an experimentalist from CMS, yet again about triggering, regarding long-lived particles, exotic decays of the Higgs particle, and both at once. Learned a lot of important things about CMS’s plans for the near-term and medium-term future, as well as some of the subtle issues with collecting and analyzing data that are likely to arise in 2015, when the LHC begins running again.

[Why triggering, triggering, triggering? Because if you don’t collect the data in the first place, you can’t analyze it later!  We have to be working on triggering in 2014-2015 before the LHC takes data again in 2015-2018]

  • 1800: An hour to work on the talk again.
  • 1915: Skype conversation with two of my collaborators in research project #1, about a difficult challenge which had been troubling me for over a week. Subtle theoretical issues and heavy duty discussion, but worth it in the end; most of the issues look like they may be resolvable.
  • 2100: Noticed the time and that I hadn’t eaten dinner yet. Went to the CERN cafeteria and ate dinner while answering emails.
  • 2130: More work on the talk for Day 3.
  • 2230: Left CERN. Wrote blog post on the tram to the hotel.
  • 2300: Went back to work in my hotel room.

Day 1 was similarly busy and informative, but had the added feature that I hadn’t slept since the previous day. (I never seem to sleep on overnight flights.) Day 3 is likely to be as busy as Day 2. I’ll be leaving Geneva before dawn on Day 4, heading to a conference.

It’s a hectic schedule, but I’m learning many things!  And if I can help make these huge and crucial experiments more powerful, and give my colleagues a greater chance of a discovery and a reduced chance of missing one, it will all be worth it.

7 responses to “Day 2 At CERN

  1. Just a pointed question regarding triggering:

    It is my understanding that triggering, besides the important aspect of persisting (saving) pertinent information on certain measurements, it also involves a certain kind filtering of what events you care to capture data on (and to avoid those events that are not interesting for your current search), so, with triggering, your data gathering process “subscribes” to certain kinds of events only.

    Is that correct?

    Kind regards, GEN

  2. samuellimjianhao

    Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:36:19 +0000 To:

  3. Well, there is the last chance, at 2015, for the supersimmetry and strings theories, before they will be buried

  4. It by the end of 1915 (that’s an entire century ago!), Albert Einstein figured out how wrong Newton was about gravity.

    It’s been an entire century that we all have known that Newton’s mechanics are not THE explanation for gravity, but we still use it within the domain that we know that it can make “good enough” predictions: most of our own civilization is built on a theory that we know that is not perfect, but it still works.

    I would not be so reckless about any premature “uselessness” of either SuperSymmetry or the Standard Model, not just yest.

    Kind regards, GEN

  5. Donald T Kjenstad

    Just wondering… When I was there in 1984 (W/Z) the cafeteria had a line down it showing the Swiss side and the French side. Is the cafeteria in the same place?

    Regards … Don Kjenstad — “Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonalbe conclusion is that they are all wrong.” – Christopher Hitchens


  6. Donald T Kjenstad

    Oh yea.. This is what I looked like back then.

    Regards … Don Kjenstad — E^2 = M^2C^4 + P^2C^2


  7. An amazingly cushy job.