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Ingrid Gregor | DESY | Germany

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Into Thin Air

On quantum.diaries a lot of different sides of the life as a particle physicist were covered so far and I think a rather complete picture of this profession was drawn. But one tedious task was not yet mentioned (at least I can not recall), but we have to do it all the time – writing proposals.
We have to write proposals and submit it to the ministry of science to secure the budget for the institute, proposals to the EU to get additional funding, proposals to our directors to convince them about the importance of a new study, and, and, and ….
Of course it is very important that we carefully sketch our scientific plans and how we want to spend the money, also to avoid that the tax-payer’s money is wasted. But there are days, when I really do not like this part of the job.
A proposal has to be clear and complete; that sounds reasonable. But not only the actual scientific work has to be described, but also details on who should do the job, what is needed to do the job, and what technical support is needed. Sometimes one has to give an exact number of how many hours will be needed to get a job done. But this is the hard part about it. As we are doing science, we sometimes do not know how long it will take to reach a certain goal, as it was not done before. I really do not know how long it takes to design a new electrical board, program it and test it. It is a new board, otherwise we would buy it somewhere. All little details have to be checked carefully, and therefore a proposal can eat up a lot of time. And depending of the kind of proposal, it is send to its destination, and after some weeks the only thing one hears is, that the proposal was not accepted.
On the other hand all the work can be worth it. A few years back our proposal to the EU was accepted and the EUDET consortium was started. The EUDET telescope was partially financed by this consortium and therefore EU money is in it. It is a very nice project and it seems that the telescope was also needed, as it is now used by a lot of groups. So I will be keeping this in mind when working on a new EU proposal in the next 2 month ….

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