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Vivian O'Dell | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

Que sera

It is the end of autumn, and here at the footprints of the Alps it is easy to feel why the season has inspired poets and artists since time immemorial. The trees are well into their cross-dressing stage of red and gold, and still before the shabbiness of winter. Having grown up in the green plus green of the tropics, I find them glorious.

Life in the trenches of high energy physics analysis is somewhat less glamorous to the naked eye. We have our software ROOT, plus many, many, many trees of the data/simulation variety… I would be dishonest to omit that, some days, it is questionable as to which one of us is the being in charge.

Still, I think a sense of grandeur keeps us hanging on. However geologic the time-scale of experimental collider physics may be, it is more yet amazing to me that we manage to make any kind of claims at all. Every number seems incredibly hard-won, and plastered with so much fine print that I’d be surprised if any researcher ever listed them all. The undergraduate me used to think that Math was the more difficult field, but I now stand by that it is easier to be consistent with yourself, than to ask the Universe to be consistent with you.

So, I don’t typically have beautiful pictures of my work to pass around. I don’t expect discoveries here to improve agriculture, nor to impact manufacturing techniques within the next fifty years. My mother didn’t tell me that I would grow up to spend my days cursing at code; well, come to think of it, nor did my professors. But someday I will help coax a Statement or two out of the universe, and I hope it is one that will disturb and confound us greatly. How neat is that?

  • Didi Mousse

    Beautiful prose. Perhaps, if this physics gig doesn’t pan out, you could become a writer? 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

  • I tried out ROOT a while ago, but it was too… hm… powerful for me. There’s so many docs, I don’t even know where to start…

    It’s probably just me, but I would find an introduction to ROOT from a user’s perspective pretty interesting. How do you approach it? What can you do with it (apart from the obvious “everything, I suppose)? etc.pp.

  • Sue Ann Koay

    Writing is fun, but I like to do something concrete once in a while, like eradicating ROOT scripts from my computer. 😉

    ROOT is certainly not Mathematica, but it does do almost anything required for data analysis (almost by definition — people will have written an extension if they need it). I think though that the average user mostly just uses it for filling histograms, with a few brave souls venturing to make trees. Histograms are a good place to start.

  • It is a pity, that now I can not express – there is no free time. But I will return – I will necessarily write that I think on this question.