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Edgar Carrera | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

DAQ shifts and those sneaky neutrinos

It is almost 40 minutes past midnight.  I just came back from my last CMS DAQ (Data Acquisition) trainee shift.  Strangely, I still have a lot of energy, so the first thing that comes to mind, after eating something (shifts make me hungrier than usual), is to keep doing something productive.  However, I need to get up early in the morning (well, it is effectively the morning already) to cover my first solo shift at 7 am, so I know I need to get some rest.  The problem is not the amount of rest needed, however, it is just that I am not used to waking up that early!

It won’t be easy to fall asleep though.  It seems that sometimes I get these bursts of energy out of air, particularly during the night.  Maybe that is why I do not drink coffee like every other physicist I know (besides it makes your teeth yellow).  Then, I think I should write while the energy “euphoria” lasts.  Write in a more natural way, that is; in a more spontaneous way.  Maybe it will be fun to read this entry again when the sun is up… I’ve been thinking about doing that for a while….

DAQ shifts are fun: you have the “control” of all the CMS detectors; everything passes trough DAQ’s hands. I liked them at the Tevatron and like them now at the LHC.  Besides, it is nice to be at P5 (point 5) where the CMS detector is located (in Cessy, France).  There, in the control room, I feel at home.  I like the excitement, and I can only imagine it being multiplied by 100 times, once first collisions come.

Then I think about neutrinos.  Those sneaky neutrinos that have been making me think a lot during the weekend.  Those sneaky neutrinos that we, at CMS, cannot detect directly but simply infer their presence by the imbalance of transverse energy in the detector.  I’ve been thinking about them because of this recent and excellent article about relic neutrinos, and how much closer to us they seem to come from compared to the relic photons. Those sneaky and skinny (their mass is really tiny) relic neutrinos, almost as old as the Universe.  I am sure they have great stories to tell about the past. They are like the grandpas of the Universe. If we could only get them to like us, to interact with us somehow.  But no, trillions of them pass through my body without me even noticing.  Maybe they keep the secret of the origins, the answer to the question that drove most of us into this, apparently, endless quest.

Edgar Carrera (Boston University)

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