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Lucie de Nooij | NIKHEF | The Netherlands

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ATLAS control room

In reply to Zoe’s post on pre-beam shifts at ALICE, I will tell you about these shifts in ATLAS. You can watch the shifters in the ATLAS control room live using the ATLAS web cam:

You can see me: thrird from the left, right in front

You can see me: thrird from the left, right in front

This is my first week of doing shifts and it is very exciting to be controlling a 50 million CHF device from a 100 meter distance. I mean: the thing is really down there, and if we push the button it really shuts down. It should be noted here that I am no shift leader (yet). I am trained to be an SCT shifter. The SCT is the silicon strip detector, a part of ATLAS’ inner detector. The SCT needs to be controlled all the time: the high voltages, its cooling, whether the strips are still active and configured and if its data are written to the database properly. We keep an eye on that.

In these pre-beam times, we take cosmic data, but as if the LHC is actually running. At some point the shift leader will ask us “are you ready for beam?” and we need to check that our detector is configured and pass over the data taking monitoring to the shift leader. Then we put the detector in a Stand-By status. This is the status it should be in when the beam is going to be injected later this year. When the shift leader tell us “Stable beam!” we can switch our detector from stand-by to ready-for-data.

This is me keeping an eye on the SCT together with the DCS-ducks

This is me keeping an eye on the SCT together with the DCS-ducks

Next thing you know, the cosmics start to appear on the big screen in front of us. It is really great. I am not sure if it sounds too exciting, but it really is. When the detectors are running we can perform all sorts of test to see if the SCT is still OK. Today, we have to run with a very high threshold, so we need to make sure the high threshold is not only set in system but also implemented down in the pit.

The eight hour shifts are now mostly used to see how the different detector parts start up and to train the shifters. By the time the LHC is running 24 hours a day, I don’t think an eight hour shift will be long.

The SCT is measuring cosmics.

The SCT is measuring cosmics.

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