• John
  • Felde
  • University of Maryland
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • USLHC
  • USLHC
  • USA

  • James
  • Doherty
  • Open University
  • United Kingdom

Latest Posts

  • Andrea
  • Signori
  • Nikhef
  • Netherlands

Latest Posts

  • CERN
  • Geneva
  • Switzerland

Latest Posts

  • Aidan
  • Randle-Conde
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Belgium

Latest Posts

  • TRIUMF
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Canada

Latest Posts

  • Laura
  • Gladstone
  • MIT
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Steven
  • Goldfarb
  • University of Michigan

Latest Posts

  • Fermilab
  • Batavia, IL
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Seth
  • Zenz
  • Imperial College London
  • UK

Latest Posts

  • Nhan
  • Tran
  • Fermilab
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Alex
  • Millar
  • University of Melbourne
  • Australia

Latest Posts

  • Ken
  • Bloom
  • USLHC
  • USA

Latest Posts

Posts Tagged ‘meetings’

Physics operations

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Yesterday I (virtually) attended the CMS “physics operations” meeting, the first meeting of this sort in the 7 TeV era. We’ll be having a few of these per week for the foreseeable future (but I probably won’t attend all of them). The goal of the meeting is to check in on how everyone is doing in the day-to-day, hum-drum work of getting our physics business done. This includes everything from checking the reconstruction of the basic objects (leptons, jets, etc.) in the detector through full analyses that lead to publishable measurements. Does everyone have the simulation samples that they need? Have we learned enough about the data that it seems useful to reprocess all it with our new knowledge applied? What sort of problems are they running into with accessing the data or using the distributed computing system? (I came to get the word on the latter, which falls in my purview.) This meeting should be useful in helping us get work done efficiently, especially given the crush of activity that is occurring in the enthusiasm to study and understand our early data, and to prepare our first results from 7 TeV collisions.

That being said, the concept of “physics operations” sort of turns my stomach. Poking around on the Web, I found a definition of “operations management,” which was “the maintenance, control, and improvement of organizational activities that are required to produce goods or services for consumers. Operations management has traditionally been associated with manufacturing activities but can also be applied to the service sector.” This suggests the idea of physics as a factory — there is an assembly line, you put some raw materials into it, you make sure that all the machines run smoothly, and out come publishable papers at the other end. Of course this isn’t how physics research actually works — throughout the process of making a measurement, we need to apply plenty of human judgment and creativity, at least if we want to advance the field in a real way.

But perhaps this is just the way things have to be these days — when you have hundreds of humans being creative at the same time, you want to make sure that they don’t all collide with each other, that they are getting the resources that they need, and that the systems and tools that we have provided don’t hamper anyone’s creativity. And perhaps this was a natural evolution: I have certainly been among the people who talk about “physics commissioning,” the work you need to do to get data analyses up and going, in analogy to getting a detector up and going. And once you’ve commissioned a detector, you operate it, of course.

In other news: I’m supposed to be going to CERN in a week for the semi-annual CMS software and computing week, but the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull (pronounced EY-ya-fyat-lah-YO-kut) volcano in Iceland and its impact on trans-Atlantic air traffic has me spooked. Apparently when the volcano last erupted, about two hundred years ago, it did so on and off for about two years. Will I make it over there? Will I be able to come home? Answers in my next post.

KB

Share

It’s a week full of ATLAS meetings here at CERN. This time it’s the “Performance and Physics Workshop”. The topics of the presentations are a mixture of some about the status of the detector/software, plans for what to do when we (very soon!) get first data, and studies of data analysis techniques or future improvements based on studies of simulated data.

The focus of these meetings, and really all ATLAS meetings, is shifting towards the data we will soon be recording. With more successful tests of beam in the LHC, the reality of collisions in the LHC is finally close. That makes the meetings these days a lot more interesting and urgent than a few years ago.
Thinking about meetings, I think there are mainly 2 times when meetings become interesting rather than just another place to bring your laptop to work:

  1. When deadlines are approaching, like the accelerator turning on, or when a big conference is coming up and work needs to be completed in time. The few weeks before big conferences are always full of meetings to approve results. Sometimes there are even arguments, which makes them really interesting. People are very passionate when it comes time to put something out there in an official way.
  2. When it is time to publish results. I have seen several arguments about how to interpret results, or whether something should be published at all, and even some shouting matches. This could happen if for example, there is a hint of a Higgs boson in the data, but not clear evidence. Should we put it out there, and risk it turning out to be a statistical fluctuation and not the real thing?

Well right now we have the first kind of interesting meetings, and hopefully soon after we will have the second kind, with lots of results to argue about.

Share

Another CMS week has come and gone. A very intense one. I spent part of the week in meetings – and only two of them were officially scheduled. Most of Tuesday, half of Wednesday, some of Monday and Thursday were spent in meetings. I even wrote a talk (though short) for one on Monday. The bulk of Thursday was divided between people asking questions, needing help, and needing my system configured. The remaining hours were divided between juggling users of my system, answering phone calls and e-mails, and trying to organize a work plan for a presentation on Tuesday next week. I felt like I spent a lot of timing describing various parts of the system, which I was happy to do. But sometimes, I am left with some lingering self-doubt, as I wonder do I really understand what I am talking about.

A few years ago our first engineer retired, and I had to validate one of the remaining boards (and re-validate the others, as their new-and-improved versions came in from the manufacturers). As much time as the engineer and I spent together and went over things, there were still holes in my knowledge. Tossed into the fire, I had to really begin to understand the schematics, the parts on the boards, and the data flow in gory detail (and ask plenty of stupid questions of the new enginneer). Was this system going to do what it was designed to do? I have done my darndest to make sure, but sometimes I feel like I am missing something. I guess that it is a good thing, but even though, we sometimes overlook the most crucial. I hope that hasn’t happened here, but in the end we are all human.

Happily, I had Friday off, and went to lovely Strasbourg to catch my breath, see the sights, and to have yummy Tarte Flambée (Flammkuche to the German speaking world), a delightfully simple combination of crème fraîche, bacon (lardons), and onions often on a crispy, almost cracker-like crust. With a nice Riesling, pure heaven. One nifty version had no bacon, but real Munster cheese on it. (If you can’t tell, one of the joys I get from traveling is sampling the local specialties.) By the way, Strasbourg is a lovely city. We want to go back and spend some more time exploring the Alsace.

This week, back to frozen pizza.

A la prochain…

Share