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Frank Simon | MPI for Physics | Germany

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A Night at the Castle

Ringberg castle (well, a part of one tower) in the rain on Monday morning.

Ringberg castle (well, a part of one tower) in the rain on Monday morning.

More travel! This time only about 70 kilometers from Munich, though, to the castle Ringberg, a conference site of the Max-Planck-Society. Here I am participating in a workshop on DEPFET detectors, a special type of silicon pixel detectors. The main focus of the workshop is the application of this technology in the new vertex detector in the future Belle II experiment, so many issues about the technology and performance of these devices, as well as ideas how to actually turn it into a detector that can be mechanically integrated into the experiment, are being discussed.

The castle is located on a mountain (well, not a very high mountain, called Ringberg) at the south-western end of the Tegernsee, a beautiful lake in southern Bavaria, at the northern edge of the Alps. So the Ringberg is half surrounded by higher mountains in the East, South and West.

The castle in the early morning on Tuesday. Even though it is already May, there is still some snow on the mountains.

The castle in the early morning on Tuesday. Even though it is already May, there is still some snow on the mountains.

I arrived at the Castle early Monday morning, after a bit more than an hour’s drive in the morning rush hour on the Autobahn ring around Munich and then further along smaller roads heading into the mountains. It was raining, and the mountains were shrouded in clouds and fog.

One part of the idea of workshops at Ringberg is that you also spend the evening discussing with your colleagues over drinks, so spending the night is mandatory even if it is actually quite close to home. A number of rooms in the castle are converted into bed rooms, so quite a number of people can actually be accommodated here. Still, due to the high number of participants, I had to share a room with a colleague, who snores like chain saw. Alas, after a not so restful night, I was at least rewarded by a beautiful scenery in the morning.

The castle front gate in the morning sun.

The castle front gate in the morning sun.

Fog on the castle grounds. Might a ghost be living here?

Fog on the castle grounds. Might a ghost be living here?

Taking a quick stroll around the castle grounds really was refreshing: The crisp morning air, sunshine and the fog slowly lifting. Just how a spring morning in the Alps is supposed to be like.

After two and a half day of intense discussion, it is now almost time to head back to Munich. Now I have to  start to put more effort into the design of the Belle II vertex detector, which will also mean that I have to cut back a bit on my work on ILC calorimetry. That is always the sad part of starting something new: With a fully loaded schedule, I have to give up some of the other activities I enjoy so much.

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