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Seth Zenz | Imperial College London | UK

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Asking for Help

It may only be afternoon back in the States, but here in Geneva it’s pretty late for me still to be at work: 11:30 PM!  I got a late start today, though, and anyway I’ve been on a roll for the past three hours.  I managed to figure out how to do some really hard stuff, and integrate it into the code I’m writing for analyzing calibration scans of the ATLAS pixel detector.

To figure out how to do the really hard stuff — accessing some databases, if you’re interested — I made use of one of my favorite pieces of advice to give to younger graduate students: don’t be shy about asking for help!  It doesn’t come naturally to all physics students, because we’re smart and self-confident, and we like to figure things out on our own.  But ATLAS and other large experiments are social and collaborative in nature, and sometimes the details you need to do your work aren’t easy to figure out and aren’t written down anywhere.  In those cases, you can make huge progress by asking the people who do know; they can’t complain, because if they don’t want you to ask next time, then they can write the details down!

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