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Adam Yurkewicz | USLHC | USA

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Control Room Design

I spent the day in the ATLAS control room yesterday. I was on shift at the Liquid Argon Calorimeter desk in the back right corner. The shift wasn’t very exciting. We were taking calibration data all day which is kind of like sitting in a car in the driveway with the motor running instead of driving around. It should have taken an hour or two, but it took about six hours instead due to various glitches. We are still very much in the commissioning phase here, and things aren’t working as well as they eventually will. It is understandable since the detector has just been built and it is tremendously complicated.

Anyway, I took a moment to snap a few photos of what the control room looks like nowadays from where I was sitting.

ATLAS Control room, May 19, 2008

View from my seat in ATLAS control room on May 19, 2008

It is a lot different from the control room where I spent a lot of time on my old experiment, the DZero control room.

Besides the size difference which you would expect since ATLAS is a bigger detector with more people working on it, there is a very different feel to it. The DZero control room was laid out in a circle, while everyone is facing in the same direction in the ATLAS control room. You might not think that the DZero control room was conducive to social interaction since everyone was facing outwards and away from one another. In practice, the middle of the room was where everyone talked and it was very easy to walk over to any other console in the room and chat with the person working there. Since everyone had to pass through the center of the room often, you were forced into seeing everyone and had the chance to see what was going on everywhere in the room. Also, the Shift Captain who was in charge of the room and data taking during a shift was in the center and could turn around and talk to anyone.

From talking to other particle physicists from other experiments, I think most prefer the circular style to the ATLAS style. In ATLAS, I have no idea what is going on in the far side of the room. And while I saw plenty of people walking around yesterday to each other’s consoles, I also saw a lot going on in the far corners of the room that I could only wonder about. The designers must have thought that this layout was better for some reason, but I don’t know what it is.

While I am sure the ATLAS control room will eventually take on a cozier feel for me after I’ve had the chance to pass a few overnight shifts there with my colleagues, it’s too bad our control room isn’t like the CERN control center.

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