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Regina Caputo | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

With Great Energy per unit Time, Comes Great Responsibility

Happy new year LHC Blog enthusiasts! I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday season.  I was lucky enough to get to go back home to Colorado this year, but unlucky enough to not have enough snow/nice weather to go skiing. Oh well, we all know the best time to ski is late winter/early spring. It’s been a while since I’ve contributed anything, so it seems only fitting to give a recap of what’s been happening in terms of the LHC, particle physics, and life as a graduate student in general.

I’m sure most people who read this blog are up-to-date as far as the LHC status. We had a very successful end of 2009 run and were able to get collisions at a record breaking energies. (Sorry for the cheesy title… It’s hard to get back into work after a break, anywho…). We’re all excited for things to start back up in February. (And by excited I mean frantically trying to write code so when the data starts rolling in, we’ll have a way to analyze it).

In other exciting particle physics news, CDMS (Cryogenic Dark Matter Search) in mid-December reported two candidate WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) events. This experiment is near and dear to my heart because as an undergraduate, I worked as a Summer Intern for CDMS at Fermilab. It’s important to say that not all particle physics is done at large colliders with gigantic collaborations. It’s a really exciting experiment and I encourage anyone interested to check it out or ask questions!

On the subject of graduate student life… The holidays are always a difficult time. Despite grad school being “free”, (It’s not really free, the grants or the graduate school pays our tuition, and usually not our school fees), our stipend isn’t that much especially when you compare it to others who went into the private sector. (I went to an engineering undergrad so all my friends – with the same degree as I have – now making 70,000+/year). Even my younger sister who works as an office manager of a business makes almost double – a fact she loves to bring up over the holidays… At least I get 2 weeks off  ;-). This means that my family usually gets macaroni necklaces and hand drawn cards as presents.  But even worse is the dreaded question that everyone seems to ask:  When are you going to graduate?

For those of you reading who went to graduate school – you know – you might as well ask my age, weight, and why there are holes in my shirt. And I don’t just get it from parents… it comes from friends, in-laws, former teachers, Marge Simpson, etc… It’s getting to the point where I’m afraid to go back to my home town because I’m now in 20th grade. Not that this is atypical. I can expect another 1.5+ years if I hope to hit the average. But it’s not about fulfilling a class requirement any more. I’m done with classes. It’s about doing a unique (or somewhat unique) bit of research and writing it up and that takes time – or so I’m told.  >sigh<

So if you’re one of those people who asks their grad student friends/colleagues/children when they’re going to graduate. Please stop and just smile when they give you a present that they made all by themselves – remember it comes from the heart.

Happy New Year!

-Regina

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