Hi everyone! Happy New Year to all of our readers. Here are a few random tidbits, silliness, and a special thank you to our editor.
Feynman Diagram Posts in Japanese
First of all, I had a very nice and unexpected Christmas gift this year. Mr. Ken Yokoyama, a physics & mathematics enthusiast in Japan who reads our blog, has (with our permission) been translating some of our posts into Japanese so that they may reach a wider audience. Imagine my surprise and delight when I received an e-mail from him with a pdf compilation of his translations my ongoing series on Feynman diagrams! Not only did Ken compile all of the translated posts, but he includes cross-referenced posts and has arranged them very nicely (it also includes a few of Christine‘s recent posts). This takes a lot of time and I’m very grateful to Ken for all of his efforts to share these posts with a broader audience. For now the pdf file can be found here.
What made this particularly enjoyable for me is that I’ve been toying with the idea of eventually trying to compile and revise these posts into a small book about particle physics. Ken has organized many of the ideas in quite the same way that I had been thinking.
By the way, don’t hold your breath on the book idea. I’m plenty busy at the moment trying to get research done for my PhD thesis! (On the other hand, I’m always looking for experimentalists and illustrators who would be interested in co-authoring such an endeavor at some point in the indeterminate future. )
Holiday silliness at particle physics labs
Christmas was also an eventful time for the theorists at CERN who participated in the traditional CERN-TH Christmas play, which is now online. This year’s lightheartedness has a Harry Potter theme and pokes fun at a few current events with a few “in” jokes about life at CERN. (Contrary to popular belief, I’m not actually stationed at CERN… so some of the jokes were over my head.) It seems like the Fermilab theory group also staged a Christmas play, though I could not find a full length recording. (By the way, I’m not stationed at Fermilab, either! )
Postdoc season in theoretical physics
Today is January 7th, which is the deadline for many theoretical physics postdoc applicants to accept first round offers from research institutions. Postdocs, or postdoctoral researchers, are the rough equivalent of residency in medicine. It’s a stage between a PhD and a faculty position where scientists can spread their wings without the obligations (or pay scale ) of a faculty job. Here’s a summary of the academic career path by Katherine two years ago (my how time passes on the US LHC blog!). This year several colleagues of mine are graduating and have landed great postdoc positions, so many congratulations to them!
Mike, the US LHC blog alumnus, recently explained to me that the postdoc positions are a little different in experimental particle physics—so I’ll leave that to the experimentalists on the blog. Mike did share this somewhat dispiriting article from Miller-McCune magazine (a similar article recently showed up in The Economist) which likens the academic research establishment to something of a Ponzi scheme. Personally, I think this is a bit of an exaggeration—most physicists that I’ve talked to are acutely aware that there will be much fewer hires than candidates at each successive step in an academic career, but the points that the columnists bring up indeed reflect times that can test the patience and resolve of young academics.
Moving to a new building
Now for a bit of slightly personal news, I’ll be moving (along with the rest of the Cornell High Energy Theory group) to a new building in a week. Here’s a snapshot I took a while ago when the building had just finished:
I’m putting up the picture partly to elicit a response from fellow US LHC blogger Ken, who did his PhD at Cornell. It’s the end of an era, Ken! From now an particle physics grad students won’t spend their sleepless nights in the old Newman Lab, but rather in the new “Physical Sciences Building.” I assume it will pick up a more interesting name in the near future. Our next task is to figure out a good place to put our group’s foosball table.
The move to the new building also required me to pack up all my stuff in my old office. Since I figured that I’d be the last one to use one of the top-floor cubicles with no air conditioning, I decided to leave something memorable on my chalkboard:
Thank you Katie!
Finally, I’d like to send a special thank you from all of the US LHC bloggers to our editor, Katie Yurkewicz. After four years as the US LHC communicator at CERN, Katie is stepping down to return to the United States to become the new head of the Fermilab Office of Communication. Katie has done a great job making sure everything runs smoothly for us as bloggers and I very much appreciate all of her behind-the-scenes work. Katie has also regularly contributes to the Symmetry Breaking blog and you may remember her husband, Adam, was a long time US LHC blogger. As a reminder of her journey to CERN, here’s an old montage from Symmetry magazine. Best wishes, Katie and Adam!
Katie will be replaced by Kathryn Grimm, who is also the editor of Symmetry Breaking. Welcome Kathryn!