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Freya Blekman | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

and now – what keeps us busy when there is no beam

Currently I am sitting at Geneva airport waiting for my plane to finally leave for Amsterdam. Looking east I see something the average cernoise is always happy to see: First snow on the Jura.

As some of you might be aware, Switzerland and the alpine areas in neighboring France have some of the best skiing in the world. And in winter that’s what I do when not working or sleeping. Seeing the first snow makes me want to put wax on my skis, check that my helmet is still snowboarder-proof and in general gets me in a happy mood. Hmm, maybe I should have started my pre-ski fitness already. Never too late.

Besides that we are happily calibrating the CMS pixel detector to even higher precision. The first tracks and hits we observed in August were produced in a bit of a rush, and having some extra time provides us with the opportunity to really squeeze the best performance out of our 30 by 100 centimeter bundle of joy. Which means calibrating the response of the detector to very high accuracy, one channel at a time. And we have 66 million channels, so of course at least a few of those misbehave.

Next week I plan to make sure that we understand our detector best and re-reconstruct the cosmic data we already have with the new calibration constants (all 132 million of them, two per pixel channel) and hopefully this will seriously improve our resolution. In some sense this is a bit of a academic exercise because until we have aligned the detector the response does not make much difference. But it is something to do when there is no beam and it makes life easier for the people doing the alignment exercise. The snow on the mountains looks pretty but it is not enough to ski on. So let’s calibrate some more!

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