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Seth Zenz | Imperial College London | UK

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Rough Week

The week before last, I was in New York for my cousin’s wedding.  This past week has been rough.  First, I’ve been suffering through jetlag, which is a terrible menace, at least westbound[Late edit: I mean eastbound!  I told you it’s been a rough week!] I’m tired all the time, except when I need to sleep — and even then I’m tired, I’m just awake anyway!  All week I was sleeping for an hour, up all night, and then falling asleep again only at dawn.

Starting on Friday, I couldn’t sleep at dawn, because I had signed up to take shifts operating the pixel detector, as we run calibration and software tests in preparation for a new round of cosmic ray running — and those shifts begin at 7 AM!  Unfortunately, the shifts seem to have gone about as smoothly as my time zone adjustment; the fun this weekend has been mysteriously vanishing database information.  When this catches you by surprise — which is what it did to me yesterday — the results can be a bit scary.  Misconfigured detector components can behave very oddly when operated, and yesterday one of them surprised me by shutting itself off to avoid damage from high currents.

Apparently things have gotten even more confusing since my last shift, so today’s shift has mostly consisted of watching the status of the detector hardware while waiting for experts to debug things.  And I am very very tired.  But at least after today I can get some rest and then get back to work on my other projects — not to mention the long-overdue entry on what we’re looking for at the LHC experiments beyond the Higgs boson.

I suppose I should stress that all of this is completely normal.  Software changes and improvements can make things a bit stressful for a while, but we are very good at overcoming momentary difficulties, and overall the ATLAS Pixel detector is in great shape.

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