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Monica Dunford | USLHC | USA

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Coffee and Conversation

CERN has come back to life. The quiet vacantness of the week before the CERN closure is gone, replaced by the soft clicking of coffee cups and saucers and the not-so-soft babble of physicists in the coffee area outside my office door.

In my building (which is where a good fraction of the ATLAS and CMS offices are located), the coffee bar is literally right outside my door. This is a good and bad thing. Good because it takes no time and effort to get coffee. Bad because it takes no time and effort to get coffee and therefore I get coffee all the time. As a result, my weekly coffee consumption is probably…. On second thought, let’s not try to estimate that. Too depressing.

But the coffee area right outside my door also means that most of the ATLAS collaboration is also often times right outside my door. This is a good and bad thing too. Bad because physicists have a tendency to speak very loudly especially when they are excited about something (Which is pretty much all the time. Physicists can be accused of many things, lack of passion is not one of them). Good because I can be privy to all the latest detector and beam rumors (which like most rumors are unreliable but at least entertaining). Thus far the new year has not brought any new rumors about the beam schedule. Ah, but give it time. 2008 is CERN’s ‘year of the beam’. And I predict there will be more rumors about the schedule than the number of physicists.

You need spend only one hour at CERN before realizing that what motor oil is to cars, coffee is to physicists. I once tried to convince my office mates to put an espresso machine inside the office, arguing why walk 20 steps to pay for coffee when you can walk zero steps and get some for free. This was shot down. The general reasoning being: right now our colleagues are just outside the door, with a free espresso machine they would then all be inside the office. I do have to agree with this logic. An espresso machine in the office would be too much of a good thing. That ‘good thing’ being either coffee or collaborators. You can choose which.

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