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Susanne Reffert | IPMU | Japan

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Postcards from CERN

Hello everyone, I am new here, this is my first post! I’m very excited to join the Quantum Diaries!
While over at my blog chipango, I mainly write about my life in Japan, over here I’ll be writing about life as a physicist.

In fact, in this moment, my life is very interesting: I’m not back home at the Institute of the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) in Japan, but on the tour of Europe, for the whole month of December. Since my husband is also my collaborator, I don’t need to do this alone, we were able to arrange our travel plans such that we can go places together. Traveling to attend conferences and give seminar talks is an important part of our work. Since flying over from Japan is a bit of a hassle, we only do it a few times per year, but for several weeks at a time, visiting a number of places per trip.

Inside the maze: CERN above ground

Inside the maze: CERN above ground


Last week, we attended a workshop at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, where I did my PhD. When I wasn’t attending the talks, there was so much to do: having lunch at my favorite restaurants, going to my favorite book shop, buying tea at my favorite tea shop, visiting the Christmas market…

Strange artifacts: view from my office at CERN

Strange artifacts: view from my office at CERN

We are spending this week at CERN, a place that hardly needs any introduction at the Quantum Diaries. While the experiment is obviously the main point of CERN, it also has a theory division, which is where we spend our time here.
It’s an exciting time at CERN, and even though I am by no means connected to the LHC, the excitement rubs off on me as well, and I’m avidly following the developments.
This is the fifth time in a row I am visiting CERN at this time of the year, but this time, CERN is even more crowded than usual. At lunch the canteen is spilling over with people.
I always thought CERN to be a strange and exciting place. It’s always full of scientists chattering away in all languages. Above ground, it consists of a jumble of buildings numbered by a system I’ve never been able to grasp. The office buildings are old and a bit crummy, but there seems to be a special atmosphere of great things happening in the air. The theory division is very active and has a lot of visitors passing through, so I usually meet people I know from elsewhere.
Since here at CERN, we’re staying at the guest house on site, and CERN is some distance away from the town of Geneva, there’s not as much distraction as in Munich. But there are also things to look forward to here: while I’m not a huge fan of Menu Proton and Neutron, I really like the breakfast here, especially the coffee flavored yoghurt which I can’t get in Japan 😉
Lunchtime craze

Lunchtime craze

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