Hello, this is the first blog I am putting here.. Hope you enjoy…
In these first working weeks at CERN, as is a bit traditional, not many things happen. People are usually coming back to work, filling up the line in the bank and post office at the Meyrin site and checking the new coffee machines that, recently, are being exchanged a lot. This year, things got especially slower, as a huge amount of snow is falling in a good fraction of Europe. Even in Arles, in the south of France, many centimeters of snow fell. The coldest temperatures reached (around -5°C) are, anyway, much above the -271°C kept in the LHC magnets. To warm up and cool it down again, the LHC would need months, so, the cooling system of the collider was kept working during this whole time.
Most CERN services are kept at a very minimal level during the end of year break. A few winters ago, actually, I remember having to work in the library, one of the few places where heating was still available. Warm coffee was only available in the gas station beside the Globe. This year, at ATLAS, the detector I work on, most of the subsystems were also shut down. The detector cooling system which circulates cold water in the front-end electronics suffered a few interventions in the beginning of the week and the electronics finally started to be turned on by Wednesday. I was supposed to be on shift and take calibration data (important, specially after a long shutdown), but some systems are still not available, and this was not possible. The detector seems like a gigantic animal, waking up after a little nap. A bit lazy to start what will be probably its longest operating period as we will start data taking earlier than ever (in February) and finish much later.
For the moment, I remember the end of Die Hard II : let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
By Denis Oliveira Damazio (BNL), 2010/01/13