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Homer Wolfe | The Ohio State University | USA

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Back at the Home Institute.

I’m in CMH airport in Columbus now, waiting for my plane back to Chicago, Fermilab, and home.

I really should have cut this closer, since I have an hour to go, and I left 15 minutes early from a really great colloquium by Sean Carroll at OSU.  He was talking about topics from his yet-unreleased book, From Eternity To Here,  specifically the arrow of time.  In honor of this, I’m writing this post chronologically backwards.

The talk was fun, and you can see the slides from it here, although you miss the humor of him reading scrawled hate mail from a 10 year old out loud in a serious tone.  The author of said hate mail was irate about the possibility of his universe fluctuating in and out of the vacuum or some such.  In general, the talk was full of historical anecdotes and broad conceptual strokes, which I think is a great tack for a talk to a physics department.

The earlier part of today I spent working with the two grad students from my group who are working on CDF, and running an early stage meeting on developing software for a Higgs search I work on.  Right now, there are a couple of distinct analyses going on at CDF that look for a Higgs bosons which are produced in the same collisions as a W boson.  These separate searches share a lot of the same methods, but they intentionally differ in the way that they estimate the likelihood that a given event is from a Higgs instead of other, less exciting processes.  The problem is that these separate studies were developed by separate people using separate code, so that the other steps of the search are similar, but not really identical.  Some of the differences are trivial, some are just matters of taste, and some of them are subtle and generate a lot of debate.  They are all pretty robust and reliable analyses, but it would save a lot of effort and make things like combination studies go way smoother if we standardized some of this.

Last night I went out in Columbus with a few of the grad students from my group and some of their friends.  It really made me miss being in a college town, since the Tevatron is really out in the suburbs.

Monday was the whole reason I made this trip:  The Department of Energy Review.  My salary, and a large fraction of High Energy Physics in this country is funded by the DOE.  My advisors were given a grant to do particular research, including a chunk for postdocs like myself, and, once a fiscal year, they send someone to review the progress of a group and make sure they are meeting the goals of the grant.  The reviewer in question, so I’m told, is a physicist originally from SLAC.  I can’t confirm this myself, since I didn’t speak to him except during my presentation.  The presentation was actually pretty fun.  I work for a good group who has a long history at CDF and top/Higgs searches, so the presentations were full of accomplishments and big hopes for improving our analyses.  No telling how the funding will go, since I’m pretty sure the DOE budget itself isn’t really settled.

While I work for two professors at OSU, I spend most of my time at Fermilab keeping our part of CDF running, and working on analyses.  I’ve only had this postdoc for eight months are so, and, not counting the interview, I think I’ve been in Columbus only four times.  Luckily, there’s a good set of flights that I normally come in 8am one day, work till 7pm or so, crash at the closest hotel, back in the office at 8am, and fly out at 7pm or so the following day.   Its a bit draning, but it gets things moving the way that video conferencing whishes it could.

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