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Chris Ruiz | TRIUMF | Canada

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Hola Todos!

Hi there and welcome to my first post as part of the Quantum Diaries. I had to be careful spelling that last word there as, well, the Quantum Dairies would be something completely different altogether.

So the content of these blogs can be anything whatsoever, including the daily goings-on in the lives of the physicists. However it just so happens that what I am doing right now, and probably will be doing for the next 72 hours until I drop, is physics. I’m about to ‘receive beam’ to my DRAGON facility here at TRIUMF, in order to do a series of calibration runs and to test a new ‘Data Acquisition System’ (big computer and lots of spaghetti wires that helps us collect data from the experiment and eventually, to visualize it). It is kind of like the “calm before the storm” in a way, for a couple of reasons.

Spaghetti trigger logic and DAQ - a mix of old and new

Spaghetti trigger logic and DAQ - a mix of old and new

Firstly – we are short staffed due to illness and unavailability because this is simply a test run, and therefore I am presently alone, although reinforcements are not long away. Secondly, the Gremlins always appear on a first run of the year, much of the equipment having been powered down (yes we physicists do care about energy conservation, in more ways than one) over the winter break and it is virtually guaranteed that over 50% of the stuff won’t work first time! All this means I’m going to be extremely busy indeed for the next 24 hours. This also means pizza delivery, although unfortunately only Dominos deliver this far out to the lab and not Nat’s, the best pizza joint in Vancouver. Hey, maybe I can get some ad revenue from this 😉

We have to get these tests done in preparation for a ‘Radioactive Beam’ measurement in mid-may, which I am hoping to blog about as it will be the first time ever this particular experiment has ever been done. To recap, I am a nuclear physicist. Technically nuclei are particles I know, but nonetheless I would not call myself a ‘particle physicist’ since that usually implies people from the high energy physics community. Not that I have anything against them of course 😉 The field I work in is commonly called ‘Nuclear Astrophysics’, and in a nutshell, we measure nuclear reaction strengths that occur in both regular and exotic stars, including the exploding ones (supernovae). The whole point is to explain the observational data about stars that we actually see, not being able to reach out and touch a star. So we kind of make them in the lab, or at least a microscopic part of them anyway.

More spaghetti

More spaghetti

The other noteworthy (at least for me) thing that happened today is that my iphone developed the dreaded ‘dead strip’ – a region of the touchscreen that becomes desensitized and effectively renders the phone useless. I thus have an appointment later today where hopefully they’ll just give me a brand new one and I can start doing all that Twitter update stuff again and check my emails while at the pub.

Well I guess that’s all for now. Until next time….

 

 

The DRAGON Group circa 2006

The DRAGON Group circa 2006

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