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Pam Klabbers | USLHC | USA

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A Break from the Daily Grind

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

I just spent the last 5 days traveling by car to Italy, returning home via Interlaken and Bern, Switzerland. So no LHC, no CMS last week.

Since there were four of us, my husband’s parents, my husband and myself, we drove together to visit friends that are currently in Modena, Italy. Not many folks make it to Modena, the home of Balsamic Vinegar, Pavarotti – with Ferrari and Maserati nearby. The little city was lovely and not too crowded. I learned a few new ways to use balsamico, one novel way is to eat vanilla ice cream with old (sweet) balsamico. Yummy. My favorite included my favorite cheese, parmigiano reggiano (parmesan) drizzled with balsamico. Well, I came back with a nice hunk, and four bottles of vinegar – I felt like a vinegar smuggler, since we crossed two borders on the way back.

We made day trips to Florence and Verona, and drove back via Switzerland – going up to Interlaken and Bern. All was a lot of fun. I am grateful that I get to live here and do things like this.


CMS Blues

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

I missed posting last week – I am already slipping.

Last week was CMS week, so it was quite hectic. We were also trying to run some tests on our hardware underground. The tests didn’t always go as planned. We had several outages – power to something or water cooling to something else. On Friday we couldn’t even get started. It was a frustrating period. Most of the reasons were understood, eventually. Monday’s was due to a fouine (beech marten) in a transformer. Poor little thing, what a way to go. Wednesday – Friday’s were due to a diesel generator replacement. We knew about that – but we thought the impact would be minimal.

Then yesterday afternoon (or evening, it was about 6:45 or so when it happened), I was going underground to drop of some items and fetch my husband, who was working hard on his portion of the experiment, and I stepped into the elevator, pressed the button for the floor I wanted and then waited. The doors closed and clunk! The elevator stopped. The display was blank, pressing buttons was doing nothing, I was stuck. I had a working CERN cell phone with a little charge and called my husband who made a few calls to the technical services (“we’re working on it”) and eventually to the fire department, who, since they come from the main CERN site, about 20-25 minutes away, arrived about 45 minutes later. I was glad to be out. I’m not particularly claustrophobic, but I’d rather not spend my evening in there. I am now wary of that elevator…I’m glad we have two.  I’m not sure this was at all related to the outages, but it just felt like the icing on the cake.

I was also writing a proceedings to the conference I just attended. I hope to have it done by friday – Monday I’m off to Modena, Italy for a few days to hang out and see some sights with my in-laws, who are around for about two weeks. It should be a good time – I always have enjoyed Italy, the food, the history, and, lest I forget, the wine.

A la prochain…



Friday, September 14th, 2007

Last week, I was at an electronics conference in Prague. Some of the talks had an definite engineering bent…and sometimes it all just went over my head (though I am fortunate to have learned a little from an ex about the processes used to make all the the electronics chips we use now). Though it makes me curious to learn more. I guess if I had infinite time, I could go back to school again. We’ll see. One of the most interesting persons I have met over the years was a retiree sitting in a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) with all these early 20-somethings. He was going back to school after taking an early retirement to learn geology. I thought that sounded like fun at the time. But maybe when I reach retirement it won’t seem like so great of an idea.

This week I spent most of my time underground. The experiment itself sits about 100 meters below the surface, and our electronics does as well. We have a control room that is a little dim and dirty (I am so tempted to start a rant about this – but I will let it lie…), and I’d much rather be in my office with a window. One does get used to it to some degree. Though I feel a little some burrowing animal in its den, only coming out at night to feed.

The weekend is here! I have managed so far to not work too much on the weekend, and because my in-laws arrive here next weekend, the work I do have to do involves our apartment. It is small (75 sq. m. = 800 sq. ft.), but it is ours. Yes, we did take the plunge and buy an apartment (very much like a condo in the States). We’re happy with it, and even if we don’t get much in return later on, at least we had a nice place to live, which was ours to pretty much do as we wanted to.

This weekend we get some rugby action. The Rugby World Cup is in France and the UK in 2007, so there is quite a bit of excitement. Tonight we watch a tape of US vs Tonga and see live (on TV) England vs South Africa. Rugby definitely has more action then football (soccer), but of course is quite a bit rougher. And those are some big dudes…

Anyhow…bon week-end et a la prochain…



Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

As this is the first post, maybe I should talk a little more about what we are doing over here. Myself, and several scientists and graduate students, are installing a system of hardware, with supporting software for controlling it, that will be part of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment. Our portion is called the CMS Regional Calorimeter Trigger (RCT). It is part of the Level 1 (L1) trigger of the CMS experiment.

The CMS detector is very large. Each sub-detctor in the experiment will keep its information electronically using a memory (much like a computers) for only a short time – as storing it all in their electronics is impossible since the LHC will collide protons in bunches at a rate of 40 million/second. The L1 trigger tells the sub-detectors what information to keep and send on for further processing – reducing the overall rate to 100000 saved events/second. The data is read out and sent to a big computer farm called the High Level Trigger (HLT). The goal of the HLT is to reduce the rate further to 100 events/second, each event about 1 MegaByte of data, so we can save it to an inexpensive data media, such as magnetic tape (much like a video tape).

The Regional Calorimeter Trigger receives electronic signals representing energies in the detector sent from the CMS calorimeters (a calorimeter measures the amount of energy deposited in it – for CMS it is seen as an amount of light related to the amount of energy deposited). These signals are added together to form sums over larger areas, and also profiles of these energies are made to distinguish different particle types. There is a good article here on the RCT.

Perhaps that is a good start – as for normal day to day life here – it is starting to become more fall like, which is nice. Hopefully this year the skiing is better. Last year was disappointing – too warm and not enough snow. We will keep our fingers crossed, but for now there is a Marathon on October 21 to train for. We’re making good progress, logging weeks with over 43 miles ran, but the longest run in the program, 20 miles, still seems a little short. We’ll see how we do, we aren’t going for anything but PRs.