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Adam Yurkewicz | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

Collaborating across an Ocean

This week, one of the faculty from Stony Brook (who I work for) came to visit. The occasion was that it was Liquid Argon Calorimeter Week, which is a sort of quarterly review of the project. While he was here, we had many good conversations about the work we are doing and the future direction of the work. It got me to thinking how useful it is to talk to someone face-to-face (I do see him over video conferencing every week). While we use many collaborative tools to work together across the ocean, there is something qualitatively different about sitting down for a conversation over coffee. And it is the main disadvantage for Americans here at CERN that we are separated from our colleagues in the US by an ocean and several time zones. There are also disadvantages for Americans that travel to CERN, like the cost and fatigue of travel.

There has been a lot of effort by the ATLAS collaboration put into allowing people anywhere in the world to be able to contribute to this experiment from abroad, and the level of success of this effort will play a big part in the overall success of this experiment. The data recorded at CERN will be sent around the world for analysis. This has been done on a small scale already, but not with the quantity of data that will be recorded when the protons start colliding. Many of us are curiously waiting to see how well this works in practice.

Many groups from the US seem to be hedging their bets on long-distance collaboration, as can be seen from the flood of people arriving now at CERN for the summer. It was probably true in the past that it was better to be on site where the data were being recorded to get the fastest access to the data, as well as to all of the experts who were at the lab. It may or may not still be the case. Many US groups are sending several people here during the summer, and some for the longer term. Hopefully in a few years when the operation of the detector is stable, more of us can physically live in the US, but still virtually be part of the ATLAS community at CERN.

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