Well the Tevatron is offically back in action! Last night they had their first successful store and collisons which means that after a long shutdown we are back in action!
While this news is exciting enough to merit blogging about and has been commented on by my friends Homer Wolfe and Ron Moore
I thought I’d comment a little on how amazing this information was to me. Not so much that one of the most complicated experiments in the world just was taken apart, tinkered with, and put back together to run successfully (and believe me, after being on ACE shifts at CDF during shutdown I came to know how crazy things break when you just turn them off…). But really I wanted to talk about the way I found out that we just had a successful store…sitting in my pajamas, at home, at 4 am, on Facebook!
What I find so remarkable about this is that not only am I able to stay up-to-date on the happenings of my experiment whether I am in the control room, or on my mobile phone, or sitting on my couch in my PJ’s, but I have access to this much knowledge and more thanks to the era that I live in . These thoughts and this realization made me appreciate what an amazing time it really is to be in particle physics and be able to take advantage of the digital revolution that has been happening for decades.
So I sat down to think of a few ways that I have it good thanks to the internet, social networking, and the access to broad steams of knowledge that didn’t even exist when the Tevatron first came online. Needless to say this won’t be a comprehensive or exhausted list, but maybe just a flavor of all the ways we in the physics communities have it good!
First of all there is video conferencing. I’m mean, wow! Whether you are on the other side of the world, in the next trailer, somewhere else on the lab, or sitting in a remote operations center (like the ROC we have at Fermilab for the CMS experiment) you can still ACTIVELY participate in the experiment, discussion, and day-to-day. This is married to the fact that log books and analysis Twiki’s make the collaboration operate as a whole no matter the distance and time separation and you’ve got some real power there.
Then there is the before mentioned social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. I don’t think the full power of these has been realized yet by the particle physics community. I mean yes this lets me find out what my friends are doing on the lab and organize the occasional outing…but I think there is more here. I would guess that the need to have experts carry pagers and be on sight will slowly diminish as now you can ‘tweet’ concerns that are sent straight to mobile phones, emails, and chat logs and can be responded to in real time.
One other final piece that I’d like to comment on is the online database for WebTalks, published papers, and technical documents. Whether this is the ever powerful INDICO server, CDF’s own WebTalks (internal access required), Cornell University’s arXiv.org, or the Twiki pages that are growing for both new and running experiments. The access to knowledge and the ability to keep an eye on the beating heart of particle physics is growing stronger everyday.
Needless to say I am very thankful to be part of this community now when we can continue to bring the full brunt of technology to bear on the many challenges of doing particle physics. Allowing me a lowly graduate student to have access the the thoughts and resources of some of the most brilliant people in the world in real time and stay up to date on the ever growing knowledge base that we call elementary physics!