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James Doherty | Open University | United Kingdom

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If you can’t stand the heat, get into the Synchrotron!

I attended the Australian Accelerator School in January of this year.  Better late than never, I recount some of my experiences below.

It’s Day 1 of the Australian Accelerator School and Melbourne is the hottest city on Earth with temperatures soaring above 40°C – which is a bit much when one has just arrived from a soggy UK winter. Fortunately, the Australian Synchrotron is housed in a beautifully air-conditioned building located in the suburbs of Melbourne, just next door to Monash University.

The Australian Synchrotron, which opened in 2007, is the largest stand-alone piece of scientific infrastructure in the southern hemisphere and provides a source of highly intense light which is used for a wide range of research purposes. It is situated on a modern site with the circular synchrotron at its focus, surrounded by several other buildings.

Beampipe: getting acquainted with the Australian  Synchrotron.

Beampipe: getting acquainted with the Australian Synchrotron.

The School has gathered 23 students, mainly from Australia and New Zealand, and an impressive panel of experts. Phil Burrows of Oxford University is the keynote lecturer and will provide a step-by-step guide on the physics and maths underpinning particle accelerators. Ralph Steinhagen of CERN is armed with over 700 slides on the technical aspects of accelerator operation. Toshi Mitsuhashi of KEK, aka the “Master”, will share his vast experience on the optics of accelerators, while Jeff Corbett of SLAC will lead laboratory exercises. And not forgetting Roger Rassool of Melbourne University, who will be present to add his irrepressible energy and enthusiasm to proceedings.

Mornings are to be spent in lectures and afternoons in the lab. In labs we will have the chance to develop practical skills, such as soldering, using oscilloscopes, programming Arduino chips, and modelling electronic circuits and particle accelerators. There are also various international conferences running through the fortnight, some sessions of which we will be attending. The programme will conclude with a group project, to be presented to the experts on the final day of the school. And there’s the odd social event to attend too.

In true Aussie fashion we are welcomed with a barbecue – although we all feel feel more cooked than sausages after a few minutes outdoors. And we’ll be kept sweating over the next 12 days…

Stay tuned for wine + DIY particle physics…


Day 1 labs: getting familiar with oscilloscopes.