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Seth Zenz | Imperial College London | UK

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Sometimes, Nothing Works

ATLAS control room - nothing workingThis past Sunday, I signed up for an ATLAS pixel detector monitoring shift. Since the pixel detector isn’t actually running right now, the purpose of the shift was to test the path from the data aquisition system to the charts and graphs that we’ll actually look at, while the detector is running, to make sure everything is working. My title as a shifter was, according to the official schedule, a “non-expert,” which is entirely accurate—but another part of the purpose of the shift was for me to learn.

You can see my station in the picture at right, but you’ll notice that I’m not there. That’s because everything is broken, and an expert is trying to fix it, which is how everything was for my entire shift.

It wasn’t the monitoring per se that was broken, so there wasn’t much to be done in terms of understanding it, but I was able to learn a few things, especially about the bits and pieces that were broken. Maybe next time, I’ll see the same problem, and know what to do without calling in an expert quite so quickly; more likely, of course, I’ll see a completely new problem, but sometimes experience like this is the only way to learn.

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