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Monica Dunford | USLHC | USA

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Control Rooms

As control rooms go, I think the ATLAS control room has style. The visitors like it because there are lots of flat screens. The physicists like it because there are lots of flat screens.

atlas_control_room

The control room is set-up so that each sub-detector or sub-group has a desk. There are 15 stations. When the beam is running, there will be at least one person for each sub-detector on shift. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That will be the situation when we get into the swing of data taking. Right now, when we try to take cosmic data with multiple sub-detectors, there are usually 20 people at each station.

This picture was not taken on a day where we are trying to run a combined cosmic run. During those days, this room is packed. Standing room only, with people sitting on the floors, typing frantically on laptops. Mobs of people at each station. People yelling over the background noise in every language imaginable. The roaring cheers and clapping when everything is working. The massive sighs and moaning when everything isn’t working. If there is a heart to any experiment, it is the control room.

There is, however, one very strange aspect about the ATLAS control room that I have never really become comfortable with. It is way too clean. Where is the clutter? Where are all the random papers thrown on the desks? Where are remnants from last night’s 2am coffee run? A little dust even? The place is spotless. Always. It is not like it is usually a mess and then gets cleaned up for press tours. It is always clean. Not that I am complaining. I am all for less entropy in the workplace. But it is disconcerting all the same.

But as control rooms go, the LHC control room…. Now that’s style. Still too clean though.

lhc_control_room

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