[blog post] Ramping up

27 03 2012

At the moment the LHC is making the transition from no beams to stable beams. It’s a complicated process that needs many crosschecks and calibrations so it takes a long time (they have already been working on the transition since mid February.) The energy is increasing from 7TeV to 8TeV, and the beams are being squeezed tighter, and this means more luminosity, more data, and better performance. As the LHC prepares for stable beams, so do the experiments. I can only see what is happening within ATLAS, but the story will be the same for CMS and LHCb.

First ATLAS splash from 2008 (ATLAS Collaboration)

First ATLAS splash from 2008 (ATLAS Collaboration)

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[Article] The neutrino matrix: why are there three of everything?

13 03 2012
Various flavours. But also mass, unfortunately.

Various flavours. But also mass, unfortunately.

Last week’s results from the Daya Bay neutrino experiment were the first real measurement of the third neutrino mixing angle, θ13 (theta one-three). There have been previous experiments which set limits on the angle, but this is the first time it has been shown to be significantly different from zero.

Since θ13 is a fundamental parameter in the Standard Model of particle physics1, this would be an important measurement anyway. But there’s a bit more to it than that.

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(This is a great article by Jon Butterworth at the Guardian on one of my favourite topics!)





[Blog post] Cleaning the world’s biggest machine

6 03 2012

Today I spent much of my time crawling around on hands and knees, picking pieces of rubbish from the innards of the ATLAS detector. It’s just one of those things that comes with the job and gives you a different view of the experiment (literally.) Before we start taking data we need to make sure that the ATLAS cavern is clean and safe. I call this process “Grooming the Beast”.

Armed with a proton pack (I mean a vacuum cleaner) I take on the dirt and debris of the ATLAS cavern!

Armed with a proton pack (I mean a vacuum cleaner) I take on the dirt and debris of the ATLAS cavern!

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