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Getting Access…and De-Vilification

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

–by T. “Isaac” Meyer, Head of Strategic Planning and Communication

Today, I witnessed a de-vilification.  It was intense, it was scary at times, and we held hands and talked quietly afterward to ensure we were ready to go out and face the real world again.

What happened?  I attended a 1-day seminar on lobbying.  Yes, lobbying the government.  As part of my job at TRIUMF in communications, strategic planning, outreach, education, external relations, public affairs, community and media relations, and whatever else I do each day to support the noble cause of the laboratory, I went to this seminar put on by the provincial Registrar of Lobbyists and Simon Fraser University. What we learned is that “lobbying” is NOT a bad word. In fact, we learned that is could be made whole, perfect, and complete: de-vilified!

What is lobbying?  Well, in simple terms, it is an undertaking to influence decisions made by government(s).  The Magna Carta granted every citizen the right to petition the crowd with his or her ideas, needs, and opinions — the first “right to lobby” was instantiated nearly 800 years ago!  Legend has it that the term “lobby” arose from the U.S. or the U.K. where people gathered around the politicians in the “lobbies” around the legislative chambers during breaks in session.  “Lobbyist” was therefore someone trying to get the ear of a politician weighing choices before voting.

In the modern world, lobbying is a dirty word. We complain about the undue influence of special interests in Washington, D.C., or Ottawa or even Victoria.  We associate lobbyists with people who just rotated out of government and are using their old rolodexes and networks to have an improper advantage in setting up meetings or having conversations with decision-makers. Worse, we see that many of these “lobbyists” are for hire! That is, they sell their ability to get access and their ability to influence to the highest bidder.

But what is really going on?

When the federal Minister of State for Science & Technology visits TRIUMF and we show him what we’re doing with isotopes for science and medicine, are we lobbying him?  Or when we are in Ottawa for a physics conference and we stop by to brief the clerks at the Ministry of Finance on our annual financial statements, are we lobbying them?

Turns out that most jurisdictions in North America have tried to do two things: (1) register lobbying activities, and (2) disclose these activities in the interests of transparency.  What qualifies as lobbying?  Well, in British Columbia, an organization is considered to be lobbying  the provincial government and must publicly register when the following criteria are all met: (a) there is an intent to communicate with government about an issue in front of it in an effort to support or influence an outcome (even if you’re requesting to maintain the status quo), (b) the people doing the communication are being paid (i.e., employees of the organization), (c) the effort expended by the entire organization for that communication exceeds 100 hours per year including prep time and travel time and meeting time and summed across all the people working on the communication, and (d) the person/people you’re meeting with government are at a certain level of decision/hierarchy.

It sounds complicated, but you can imagine what they’re trying to do: make sure that an average citizen’s letter doesn’t have to be tracked and reported but DO make sure that when larger groups meet on a regular basis with government representatives, there is some record of it.  We don’t want our democracies being run with secret advice in secret meetings!

And sometimes the lobbying registering and reporting rules are complicated. They are different for each part of each government, so one type of meeting might be considered lobbying the provincial government but not the federal government. Or a meeting with the Executive Branch might be lobbying where it wouldn’t be for the Legislative Branch.  For instance, we learned that staff of the Executive Branch cannot accept anything more than a cup of coffee at a function; staff of the U.S. Congress can have food “as long as it is not related to a meal.”  Now what does that mean?!

So what happens when you “register” as a lobbyist?  It means that you then have to keep track and “report” on the meetings and discussions you have with the government on the topics you’re interested in. For instance, a meeting to discuss the federal budget for science would qualify as well as a meeting to learn about the selection criteria for an upcoming research program.  Check out what happens when you register at the Government of Canada’s Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying website.

One of the themes of the workshop was how the system could be revised to allow more participation by interests that don’t have millions of dollars.  One suggestion was that responsibility for lobbyist registration and monitoring should also rest with public servants: when THEY meet with with YOU, they should record/report it and at the same time consider if they need to request a parallel meeting with another stakeholder group that also has a view on the issue up for discussion.

So, my meetings with the federal government do count; now, if the government person initiates the meeting, then it doesn’t.  But when we invite them, which we do ona regular basis, it does!  And TRIUMF certainly spends more than 100 hours per year collectively preparing for and meeting with government.   So that means we are lobbying…or rather, we are exercising our right to petition “the crown” to encourage them to favourable support the future of public funding for Canadian science and technology.

So lobbying is not dirty, its not evil.  You could even argue that lobbying is critical to a free, democratic society.  Its just that when conflicts of interest arise or improper advantages are used or sold that society runs into trouble.  So, what do you think?  What is lobbying for you? When does it cross the line?  Is it an intrinsic part of democracy or is it the path to corruption?

Go ahead—write back and lobby ME.


Leadership from the Front or Back of the Room?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

–by T. “Isaac” Meyer, Head of Strategic Planning & Communication

I am in Japan again. The sun rises early through fog and then sets early in a sea of chalky pastels. And what I am thinking about on this visit is global leadership. And not because of the Euro debt crisis or the silly antics of American politics or even the struggles of Canadian government as it tries to keep believing in a bright future amidst all this.

I’m thinking about how the nature of effective global leadership is starting to change. In the traditional view, a leader is a person up front, giving directions, listening to feedback from the team, and providing an overall sense of direction while representing the team to the outside world. Sometimes the leader will walk among the ranks and comment from the back of the room about how it’s going. But it is really only in the past few decades that we’ve seen “leadership from the back of the room” start to take off. What is it? Its where the leader puts himself or herself at the service of the group. Where the leader is mostly just listening and then identifying when consensus or agreement appears to be present. A leader “from the back of the room” would ask questions and make requests of others to present ideas or propose pathways for action.

In an article a few years ago, some economists called this “collaborative advantage.” They noted, “Strong possibilities that the nation can benefit by developing ‘mutual gain’ policies. Doing so requires a fundamental change in global strategy. The United States should move away from an almost certainly futile attempt to maintain dominance and toward an approach in which leadership comes from developing and brokering mutual gains among equal partners,” (L. Lynn and H. Salzman, “Collaborative Advantage,” Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 2006, p. 76). They say this collaborative advantage,  “…comes not from self-sufficiency or maintaining a monopoly but from being a valued collaborator at various levels in the international system.”

What does this have to do with my global travel this week? Well, I think Japan is in the process of taking on a leadership at the “back of the room” for the entire world. Traditionally, Japan has been a leader out in front by being extremely focused and very dedicated. In science and technology, Japan leads and invites others to follow after it has a leadership position. But in a modern world where everyone is competing and everyone needs a partner, it is the countries who can get other countries to work together that will ultimately succeed the most.

I’m here for the KEK/TRIUMF Scientific Symposium, an annual event where the two labs on either side of the Pacific Ocean review opportunities for collaboration on accelerator-based science. This time, though, there is a difference in the air. Both laboratories are looking for opportunities that are concrete and truly joint: where together they can offer a combined research or development capability that they wouldn’t be able to do individually. For instance, both TRIUMF and KEK provide beams of muons that are used for characterizing the magnetic properties and behavior of novel nanomaterials. In the next round of upgrades, both labs will assist each other with implementation and commissioning. But rather than collaborating to ensure that each has a complete and working system, the labs could partner so that they have complementary capabilities—and then send some of their users to the OTHER lab when those special capabilities are needed. This may sound obvious and it may sound trivial, but it is a profound shift. It’s like having the Chevy dealer tell you that for your needs, you really need a Ford and he/she will give you a ride over to the Ford dealership for free.

And so, globalization and the flat earth takes another step forward. Japan is looking for partners in science, Canada is looking to develop “collaborative advantages,” and Greece struggles to choose a premier. We will have peace on this planet sometime soon!

On a personal note, I have to say that this has been one of my more difficult trips to the Big Island of Japan. I am on a short-term eating plan (aka diet) to trim some weight and more importantly, interrupt my habit of eating everything in front of me. So for each very elegant and hand-crafted meal I sit down to at Japan, I am picking and choosing what I can actually taste and eat to minimize carbs and sugars. *sigh* I must come back again to fully savour this beautiful and noble country!


Competing and Collaborating FAIRly

Friday, November 4th, 2011

– By Nigel Lockyer, Director of TRIUMF

I just returned from a trip to Darmstadt Germany where I attended the inaugural one-day meeting of the FAIR Science Council. FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) is an ambitious new one-million-plus euro nuclear and particle physics project—mostly nuclear—addressing the intensity frontier. It will be located right next to GSI, the large nuclear physics lab just outside Darmstadt. They are aiming to have the first science from FAIR by 2018. It is being formed as an international laboratory, and has been incorporated with the German designation of “GmbH”.  Presently there are six shareholders: Germany, Russia, Sweden, Finland, India, and Romania. A number of new partners are in detailed negotiations: firm commitments are expected soon from France, Poland, and Romania; and a large group, which includes Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Norway and several more, is exploring joining. Canada and the US are not members yet but that could change.  It is arguably the most ambitious project in nuclear physics in the world.

The main thrust of FAIR focuses on the structure and evolution of matter on both a microscopic and a cosmic scale. There are four scientific pillars: 1) atomic physics, plasma physics, and applications such as nuclear medicine; 2) Compressed Baryonic Matter; 3) Nuclear structure and nuclear astrophysics; 4) hadron structure and dynamics. I was intrigued with several science topics, but understanding the “vacuum” has always captured my interest.

When I looked into this in the past, it was far too murky for me as a particle physicist to make sense of quark and gluon condensates and spontaneous symmetry breaking of chiral symmetry. It is the energy associated with the vacuum that leads to the famous 120 orders of magnitude “wrong calculation” of the cosmological constant—one of theoretical physics biggest embarrassments, or so they say. FAIR thinks they will weigh in heavily on this subject. If they do, it will be a major scientific advance for quantum chromodynamics. Another area I found of interest was the plasma physics program. They will be able to make plasmas with heavy ions and thus could study inertial confinement with ions instead of lasers and light, as NIF does at Livermore. They will explore new territory in the temperature density plane and they plan to image the plasma using proton radiography, a technique I was introduced to when I first looked at proton therapy for cancer patients. To the best of my knowledge, Los Alamos has done the leading work in this area and are looking at mounting experiments at FAIR. That would be a powerful team.

I am on the committee because they have a rare isotope beam (RIB) program and TRIUMF is a major player in that field. FAIR will use a complimentary technique to TRIUMF, which in turn, will make us both competitors and collaborators.  I enjoyed meeting the committee members, many of whom I did not know, and especially interacting with an old friend from CDF days at Fermilab, now Director of Research at CERN, Sergio Bertolucci. Sergio provided a wealth of knowledge and advice for the FAIR project management team, as did the other committee members. Overall, it was a good first meeting for what will be a very exciting and important project for nuclear physics. I predict great things for them!




May the Best Team Win…But, First Let’s Help Each Other Out

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

–by T. “Isaac” Meyer, Head, Strategic Planning & Communications

Seems like scientists travel a lot, going to and fro, traversing universities, laboratories, and countries around the world. Is this because scientists are wanderlusts and cannot be contained within one set of borders?

No, not really.

For instance, a chief reason scientists travel is to participate in peer-review committees of their fellow laboratories and research institutions. This isn’t the type of peer review that is used to hone and select papers for publication. This is a peer review where scientists and other experts gather to give tough love to a research project and its leadership.

I wrote this from a small hotel off the U.S. Route 1 in New Jersey, near Princeton University. What brought me here was an invitation to join a group of experts to hear about the progress and plans of the nearby U.S. DOE national laboratory and give shrewd advice about where they needed to straighten up and fly right—and where things are really humming. I came as a “subject-matter expert” in communications and strategic planning; others were international experts in plasma and fusion science; still others were seasoned veteran project leaders with decades of project management and budgeting experience. Perhaps most importantly, some of the people in the group hailed from the lab’s traditional “competitors” and its collaborators. In this way, the host lab got the toughest scrutiny.

That’s the amazing thing. As competitive as scientists are with each other, with one another’s collaborations and experiments, we all know that it’s better if it’s a “fair fight” and a level playing field. The only “losses” should be on the scientific playing field, not because of poor management, accidents, or design flaws. So scientists, especially particle physicists, have a great tradition of inviting groups of their expert colleagues over to review their programs and plans with a fine-toothed comb. Some of the committee members can be quite gruff, but it’s like preparing for a test: you want the hardest questions in advance so that you are totally prepared and totally ready for an official government review. Not only does the laboratory get crucial advice about what is working and what isn’t, but the visiting experts get a chance to get updated on the capabilities and plans of the laboratory. Everybody wins, because everybody contributes something and everybody gets contributed to.

There’s another feature of these reviews that is neat. Not all review committees do it this way because of their specific tasks or mandates, but there is one style of the review and the report that is especially common—based on the so-called “Lehman review” format named after Danny Lehman of the U.S. DOE’s Office of Engineering and Construction Management. (See this article in ITER Newsline to learn more about it.) A Lehman review is considered one of the most grueling and investigative reviews in the business. The report of the review committee is designed to be short and sweet; no time to waste on pleasantries. The report is organized into three sections on the major topics: findings, comments, and recommendations. Findings capture the essential facts that the visiting committee learned during the review. Findings are meant to be just observations and “what’s so.” It forms the basis of the next two sections of the report. A “comment” is exactly that; it is a reasoned judgment or assessment of the review committee based on their substantial experience. A comment might state that a certain finding is a good technique for getting the work done or it might state that a certain finding has inherent risks for achieving the overall project goals. Finally, recommendations are the specific pieces of hard-hitting, specific advice. Recommendations are intended to be very clear: who should do what by when? A recommendation that says, “Somebody should think hard about that situation and then maybe do something,” is rejected. A recommendation is meant to a homework assignment that the host laboratory could understand, complete, and then report back on how it went.

In any event, the peer review I participated in for the Princeton laboratory was phenomenal. The laboratory has come along way over the past decade and they are taking a real leadership position for the future of plasma science and technology in the U.S.

Thank you for sharing the lab with us, and we’ll back in 6 months to check on your “homework!”


Working with TR13

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

– By Kiel Strang, TRIUMF High School Fellowship Student

For the past 6 weeks I’ve been working for Dr. Conny Hoehr and TRIUMF’s Nuclear Medicine group.  The main project I’ve been working on involves a new process for producing Technetium-94m (94mTc) with the TR13 cyclotron.

Kiel and the TR13 Cyclotron

94mTc is a radioisotope used in PET imaging and has some properties that make it an attractive replacement for 99mTc, a commonly used imaging isotope that is now in short supply.  When the positron emitted by 94mTc annihilates with an electron, it emits 2 gamma rays in opposite directions.

Detecting these in coincidence allows the position of the tracer molecule to be determined more precisely than is possible with the single gamma emitted by 99mTc, producing better image quality.

94mTc has been previously produced using solid molybdenum trioxide-94 (94MoO3) targets.  Dr. Hoehr and her team are developing an alternate method of producing 94mTc using a liquid target filled with a solution of 94MoO3, ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and water.

My role in this project was developing the software to control and automate handling of the target solution.

Using NI Lookout (http://sine.ni.com/nips/cds/view/p/lang/en/nid/12511), I developed a control interface for the process and automated the expected sequence of operations.  I tried to make the interface easy to understand and operate, and flexible enough to allow for easy adjustment as the procedures are finalized.

As this is an experimental system, I tried to leave the operator lots of flexibility.  In addition to the automated stages, the interface allows manual control of all the valves.

One of the most interesting challenges in developing the interface was controlling the syringe pump used to push solutions into the system.  This pump has an integrated microcontroller that can be programmed with quite complex tasks, but the interface between the pump controller and the Lookout control software is very limited.  There are 2 programmable input pins available and 1 pin, which starts or pauses the pump program.

The Lookout control program needs to be able to select any of 3 preset dispensing volumes (for filling the target, dispensing products, and purging the system).  I did this using timing on one of the input pins – when the pump program is started, it will select a volume based on the length of time the pin is powered.  The other programmable pin is used as an emergency stop signal.

Because this system is not expected to be assembled and run until the fall, I had to test each component individually.  For the Lookout software, I created simulated inputs and indicators for the state of the outputs.  I also tested the pump by manually connecting power to its input pins.  These methods allowed me to verify that each component works as intended before the entire system is assembled.

I’ve been debating between studying Physics or Engineering Physics for a couple of years, but working at TRIUMF has shown me that an engineering education could be very valuable even if I eventually decide to pursue a career in physics.


From High School Graduate to Particle Physicist

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

– By Adam DeAbreu, TRIUMF High School Fellowship Student

“Oh my god”, “it was so crazy”, “it was nuts” – that’s about all I was able to say during my interview with the North Shore News after I found out I had won the TRIUMF Fellowship. Even now [at the end of the work-term], those same emotions still stand – I’m still amazed that I was able to work at TRIUMF, work with particle physicists, work with data from the ATLAS detector – that after reading the sign saying, “TRIUMF employees only past this point”, I could walk right past it.

Before I even knew what happened my first day had come, I arrived at TRIUMF and sat down in the lobby and just about died from anticipation and anxiousness. That first day I knew I was working with Dr. Oliver Stelzer-Chilton and the ATLAS group, but I didn’t have a clue as to what my project was going to be. The constant whirlwind of butterflies in my stomach calmed as Oliver and I talked about possible projects, areas of research, and tools that I would be using.  The decision came down to working with data from the ATLAS detector or using the program Pythia to simulate collisions of particles. The answer came easy to me – if I had the chance to work with data from ATLAS, from the LHC, from CERN, then there wouldn’t be much that would persuade me to choose otherwise.

And so my learning/research project/adventure began. All the data was of sets of two muons that ATLAS had detected and that had decayed from a Z boson. The simulated data is run through a detector resolution smearing equation because there are thousands of events that have to be sorted depending on where in the detector the muons went. This equation uses two parameters, S1 and S2, with ranges that the program incrementally goes through to create templates with a range of resolutions; from very high, being a very skinny histogram, to low, being a wider histogram. These templates are then used as a structure to fit the data from ATLAS.

The first part of my project was to rewrite the code with only one resolution parameter, S1, and have the second resolution parameter, S2, that had a different momentum dependence fixed. By doing this and removing the S2 variable, we could see how much additional scaling was needed for the fits. As well, we were able to measure the Z boson mass and compare it to the world’s average value of 91.187 +-0.002 GeV.

I’d like to say that I just jumped right into the project and finished it within a day. However, when I looked at Oliver’s code it looked as though it was in a completely different language and to an extent, it was. I had to learn the C++ it was written in and the usage of the program ROOT, which created and manipulated all the histograms and data. I am not the most tech savvy person and getting my head into the programing was hard; however, it helped that I had a goal – that my programing was helping Oliver with his report: “Search for High-Mass Dilepton Resonances in pp Collisions at √(s) = 7 TeV”. Just knowing that was what my work was related to would have kept me going for months. As well, I took solace in something Oliver had said during the first days of my fellowship, “Use the code, and the programs and the language as tools. I became a physicist and if I’m not careful with all the coding around me I may end up a computer scientist.”

Finally I began what would inevitably be my last project during my fellowship. I had to create another program that would take the same data set, but include the second resolution term S2 and produce templates with one dimensionality higher. We split the data and simulation depending on the muon’s momentum. In the equation used for the resolution of the detector, the S1 and S2 terms have a different dependence on the momentum value, so it’s important to split the data in this fashion. With the Z boson mass distribution split according to momentum the motivation was that we would be able to simultaneously constrain S1 and S2. If both could be constrained, this would allow for an independent measure of S2 that currently can only be obtained from an external input. As well, this would allow both resolution parameters to be measured from the Z boson sample, which is an important calibration sample when searching for new particles at high mass.

Despite really enjoying all that I was learning, I was still thankful that the entirety of the six weeks wasn’t constant coding and compiling. No, there was a lot more to the six weeks than just that; I met great people, attended lectures, seminars and workshops. There’s a very strange feeling I got when, after hearing all these people talk about their work during lectures or in the lunchroom or the office with such passion and insight and knowledge, and to know that not long ago they were in my position – gearing up to take the first step in an education of physics. In just the six short weeks I’ve been at TRIUMF my comprehension of everything particle physics related has grown so much. And it was a great feeling when I saw that it wouldn’t be long before I would be neck deep in the physics.

Then there was the BBQ, I won’t say that I’m surprised but I was definitely pleased to see so many physicists being able to put their work aside to relax and have a great time. To see someone, one day talking about the applications of particle physics, now desperately trying to bite a hanging donut from a string, was definitely a great way to take a break, laugh and relax.

In the end I went from being completely overwhelmed by just the thought of working at TRIUMF – nevertheless actually working with particle physicists and using the same tools and data that they use – to having a handle on ROOT, C ++, and the manipulation of data and histograms. This fellowship has jump-started my learning, and my career. One last quote from Oliver: “there’s so much out there, at a certain point you go from learning it all, as in elementary and high school, to having to narrow your scope – to choose what it is you want to learn”. I’ve narrowed my scope to physics and this fellowship has given me a great experience of what it means to be a particle physicist and will undoubtedly help me when it comes time for me to narrow my scope for the next step. Until then my horizon holds all the possibilities that university physics brings with it, all rushing towards me – and I can hardly wait another minute.


“The life of a scientist: have you been disillusioned yet?”

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

– By Saige McVea, TRIUMF High School Fellowship Student

I was asked this question by Dave Ottewell, a veteran physicist who has worked with both the TITAN and DRAGON groups during his 37 year long career at TRIUMF, Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics. It was during my second week participating in the TRIUMF High School Fellowship, and I must admit that since then, I have been completely and utterly disillusioned.

The first few days of my six week internship were spent in a haze; not only is the TRIUMF lab massive and labyrinthine to a newcomer with a poor sense of direction, but the individuals who work there (though they appear ordinary) speak a dialect of English rich in acronyms and scientific jargon. Quite simply, I was lost. However, I was also fortunate enough to be placed under the supervision of Jennifer Fallis, a post-doctorate research associate, and Chris Ruiz, the group leader with whom I have been working on the DRAGON experiment.

Once somewhat familiar with my new environment and the language being spoken, I was given a small project. I was to design a platform to which a pinhole camera, an LED light, and an alpha source could be mounted so that the deterioration of ultra-thin carbon foils could be observed within the MCP chamber. This seemed incredibly simple at first when compared to what I had previously been trying to understand, but in reality, it proved to be rather problematic.

Saige with her work for DRAGON

Acquiring the camera from a spy shop with Lars Martin, Jennifer, and Gabriel (a student participating in the Emerging Aboriginal Scholars Summer Camp) began the job on a comical note. However, every necessary step after that point was time consuming and rather frustrating. Parts needed to be located so that the camera could be tested in a vacuum chamber, LED light configurations needed to be explored so a quality image could be obtained, and the dimensions of the existing components of the alpha source platform needed to be verified. When I finally had my sketch of the platform completed, I decided to double check that it would not protrude into the oncoming beam-line, and was again exasperated. The current extendable arm could not sufficiently withdraw; therefore, the new platform would most likely interfere with the radioactive beam. This would be an easy fix if the extendable arm required (SBLM-275-6) to correct this issue did not cost $1100 and take 35 days to be delivered – a duration exceeding the length of my stay.

The collapse of the camera installation, however, allowed me to take on other projects during my time at TRIUMF. I was taught how to do some very basic data analysis of the Magnesium-24 run using a root terminal and elementary C++ programming. By using MCP time of flight to select BGO (Bismuth Germanate) detector data for the E0 spectrum, centroid positions and resonance energies could be determined. My data analysis was compared to that of Dave Hutcheon, who used the separator time of flight (time between detection of a gamma ray and a heavy ion arriving at the DSSSD) instead of MCP time of flight, and fortunately, our results were in agreement.

Other slices of my working hours were spent attending student lectures and seminars. While at the ARIEL workshop, I made “tweets” concerning the speakers’ presentations. Although there was an abundance of things very much beyond me, I was forced to focus on the scraps of information that I did understand. I also learned during these seminars that scientists can get extremely passionate about their beliefs in theoretical physics. Whether the Higgs exists, dark energy is real, or supersymmetry is valid, I cannot say; but I am very glad that much still remains unknown. Most recently, I have been updating DRAGON’s astro website, and will perhaps continue to do so after my work term has ended.

So, returning to my complete and utter disillusionment, a career in physics is nothing like I would have expected. It does not entail familiar procedures or strategized experiments with flawless results obtained in pristine laboratories that yield clear and obvious conclusions. From what I have seen, a career in physics it is about dedication, incessant learning, collaboration with peers, and the prevalent mentality that “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

I would like to give a huge thanks to the TRIUMF High School Fellowship Committee for giving me this wonderful opportunity, all members of the DRAGON team for patiently instructing me over these past six weeks, and the 2011 summer co-ops for being a fantastic group of people. I wish you all the best!



Gabriel’s Notebook: The Last Week

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

– By Gabriel Stewart, visiting PIMS student

Day 1

The beginning of the week was a Tuesday because of BC day. I love those holidays but it took one day out of my blog >:(  Anyways… on Tuesday, I met the boss LeRoss (aka Theresa LeRoss, a cool 20-year-old). She took me on a tour of the M20 beam line where they’re re-building a beam line. The beam lines all over the lab bring particles from the cyclotron to the experiments. She explained how the beam lines are laid out and aligned, then we set up a level and theodolite in ISAC-I.

Gabriel with "the boss LeRoss" and the M20 beam line

Day 2

This week was short and it’s my last week here. In memory that I was here, I helped lay out a grid with chalk. We were checking how level the floor is for some equipment they’ll put there. I also scraped off rust steel door frames.  Hahahaha boss Leross, don’t worry I had fun and I don’t mind doing that stuff for my last week. It was fun spending time with a laid back type of girl…..woman….girl that can get her stuff done easily. Even if she doesn’t think she is an adult, I think she is very mature in a good way, so that makes you an adult boss Leross :). Well that’s it; I’m done here. This is Gabe signing off—hopefully I’ll be back next year! And I still say it beats staying home and doing nothing on the computer.  🙂 Bye!


Gabriel’s Notebook: Building masks for physics

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

– By Gabriel Stewart, visiting PIMS student

Day 1

Today was the first day with TIGRESS. Greg came by to meet me last week, but he was so busy he forgot about me on Monday! He made time for me to help out – I made a “mask” for the detectors. I made a right angle triangle with a dremel tool and they were putting it on as I left for home.

Day 2

Today a group from the PIMS summer camp came in to film me at TRIUMF. I missed my bus stop, but even though I arrived 30 minutes late and a little sweaty, they got some pictures and videos of me at the TIGRESS machine. After that, we sat in front of a computer until 4:00 waiting for the data to come in. Once we saw the triangle-shaped data, we took out the “mask.”


Gabriel shows off the mask he made to fit into TIGRESS.

Day 3

Today was my last day with TIGRESS.  It’s been a good week. Greg went to the dentist that day. I made another mask to calibrate the silicon detector(s) (I don’t know if it is one or more). When I was finished, Mr. Wu ,Elaine, and I talk for a while. They are researchers that are visiting TRIUMF and working with TIGRESS right now—they are good people :). Next week is my last. Man, this beats staying at home and doing nothing.


Gabriel and Greg Hackman in front of TIGRESS


Gabriel’s Notebook: Fixing an ion source

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

– By Gabriel Stewart, visiting PIMS student

Day 1

Today I saw a model of the cyclotron and got a brief science lesson from the supervisor, Keerthi Jayamanna.

Day 2

When I arrived the second day, Keerthi and Kasia Tokarska explained to me how the power source works because I was working with OLIS (Off Line Ion Source). It is the one and only supplier of the stable atomic elements into the experiments — without them, DRAGON and TIGRESS wouldn’t really work, so this is where DRAGON and OLIS and TIGRESS coincide. The other thing I did was look at the beam line and try to understand it.


Gabriel (left) and Kasia in the ISAC-I Control room.

Day 3

This was my last day with OLIS. Today was interesting—there was something wrong with the wave emitter so they were fixing it when I got there. I got to help fix a wave emitter. I also saw Jennifer Fallis, the person I worked with from DRAGON. And at the very end of the day I got to meet the person I will be working with from TIGRESS next week. He showed me the gamma radiation detector. He explained that it’s the thing from Hulk the movie made in 2000, but in that movie it was a gamma emitter that turned the character into the hulk. That was pretty much my week. I still say it beats staying at home…


Kasia (left), Gabriel near OLIS as Keerthi works on fixing the equipment.