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Paul Jackson | CERN | Switzerland

View Blog | Read Bio

Back in the ACR

I’m putting in my fair share of work these days with the imminent arrival of something special into this world soon (just to nip it in the bud early, no I do not mean I’m becoming a father, not just yet at least). Beams are this years baby. Who knows, if we’re lucky, by the end of the year, birds and baguettes permitting, we may even collide them. If we do have collisions I would bet on one thing, they will be done very carefully and there will be no risks taken whatsoever. Stating the obvious there I suppose but, well, we are in a cautiously optimistic mood these days.

The ACR as I have mentioned previously is the ATLAS Control room and after a couple of weeks hiatus working on other worthwhile tasks I was back on shift this morning. A few things have changed in the past weeks.The ATLAS mural is to provide some visual excitement to an otherwise drab building. A great idea! You can see point 1 as you drive past CERN and actually being able to see what the experiment looks like as you drive past really adds to the mystery and excitement surrounding the place. It also saves parents having to convince their kids by saying,”hey Billy, there’s something really cool going on 100m below that large concrete building over there.” A exclamation that would likely be met with a, “whatever Dad/Mum”, or the equivalent in French perhaps.

The ATLAS mural: provide colour, wonder and imagination to the exterior of the building while the boffins do likewise within.

The ATLAS mural: provides colour, wonder and imagination to the exterior of the building while the boffins do likewise within.

Coupled with the exterior painting, is a rushed job to paint the interior areas of point 1 around the ATLAS control room. This is causing a bit of a problem as people are having more trouble getting in and out than usual, and since the traffic milling around the control room has unsurprisingly risen recently things are less than ideal. It made my getting to the coffee machine this morning a near gargantuan task which isn’t quite what I needed (what I needed was the coffee!). In a similar vein, a fancy revolving door was put in last year as ATLAS neared the business end of operations and all the world’s dignitaries were coming over for a gander. Hopefully the painters rush won’t be wasted.

From coloured walls to color charge (I should trademark that segueway) the detector is running smoothly. Very smoothly in fact. Collecting stable overnight runs, ironing out some minor problems along the way, testing new access methods to the computers at point 1, among many other things. This collaboration has really pulled it’s collective socks up, and the amount of hard work and long nights put in to make us ready to lovingly accept whatever beam is sent our way is always impressive to me. I’m not immune myself, far from it. I find it extremely inspiring and tend to do most of my best work in an intense and vital time as this one most assuredly is. I’m pulling together several aspects of the analysis I am planning to unleash on the data we collect, while also working to understand the current functioning of the ATLAS pixel detector to make it as efficient and safe as possible for the weeks ahead. But perhaps most importantly are the shifts: taking part, doing your share, pitching in, one of the crowd, waiting in the control room, champagne on ice.

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