Last week, the CMS and ATLAS experiments hosted a party for all collaborators
of the respective groups to celebrate receiving the 2013 EPS High Energy
Particle Physics Prize. This was an opportunity to celebrate the past 30 years of
hard work in planning and execution of an international effort to discover the
next level of high-energy physics. During the gathering, it was pointed out that
now is the time to start planning and executing the next generation of particle
colliders and high energy physics searches. This is quite true, given that we must
not fall into the mindset of, “If we can discover the Higgs particle, then why build
a better detector?” It is very much a reality that the LHC still offers much to be
discovered, as we have yet to reach its full potential. But if we wait until we have
exhausted the potential of the LHC before planning for the next experiments, it
would create a gap in progress for future generations and ourselves.
Another great moment from the evening was when the awards were displayed—
symbolically communicating that we all received this award and we can all share
in the moment. Individual and personal achievement will always be a highlight
in one’s own life, but this moment of gratitude and humility for a job well done
through a international collaboration was certainly inspiring.
A physicists’ party could be imagined as a bunch of nerds reciting equations to
the beat of techno music, but that’s not quite what happened. Working in an
international collaboration usually means we have irregular work hours, with
swarms of emails sent from all over the world at any hour of the day (or night).
We usually try to maintain a normal workday as well as life outside of work, but
you can still spot at least a few glowing computer screens as work carries on into
the dead of night. To have a dedicated party for both collaborations where we
were able to unwind and talk about sports or vacations and dance highlights how
worthwhile our experiences are. The work is difficult, but how many careers
offer the chance to literally travel across the world on a regular basis and work
on the largest particle physics experiment ever?