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Frank Simon | MPI for Physics | Germany

View Blog | Read Bio

Life on Shift

Me in the MTBF control room, at 3 in morning after a couple of nights with nowhere near enough sleep.

Me in the MTBF control room, at 3 in morning after a couple of nights with nowhere near enough sleep.

Now I’m well into my third night on shift. Actually, it is already light outside again, so I’ve been here for already almost 7 hours, with quite a bit more still to come. We are currently taking data for something like 16 to 19 hours a day, so I spend a lot of time in the control room. But taking shifts is actually exciting (at least at times), and a pleasant change from what I mostly do nowadays. Maybe this is why I’m spending way more time at the experiment than I really have to, working also together with the day shift. For a few days, burning the candle both ends and in the middle works, but I guess I’ll sleep like a baby on my flight back to Munich Monday night.

After quite a few accelerator problems two days ago, which lead to a lot of lost beam time, things are now going fine again.

Cabling of our trigger electronics. Even if you find the right signal at one particular point, tracking it through the system is an interesting exercise.

Cabling of our trigger electronics. Even if you find the right signal at one particular point, tracking it through the system is an interesting exercise.

Actually, yesterday I figured out that we were not recording something like 20% of our data due to conflicts in our data acquisition system, and now that this is fixed we can make more efficient use o the limited beam time that we have. Investigating the problem involved hunting down the “spill signal”, an electronic signal we get from the Fermilab accelerator telling us that particles should be arriving. So I did some digging in the cable mess around the electronics that make sense of all the signals we get from the beamline instrumentation. Such setups usually grow in a disorganized way during the installation phase of an experiment, so they tend to look more like a bowl of spaghetti than like a scientific apparatus. In the end, the whole thing turned out to be a software problem rather than a hardware issue, and some reprogramming fixed it. Well, I am a bit proud of myself for catching it!

But now, with the data aquisition happily chugging away, it is time for some lunch… Well, others here on site would call it breakfast, I guess…

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