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Archive for March, 2010

…and Success!

The fill after the one I mentioned before stayed in (the trip was finally tracked down to a power supply trip in the SPS, one of the injector synchrotrons) and was successfully accelerated to 3.5 TeV. Shortly after 13:00 the beams were brought together, and lo and behold, the detectors started seeing events. I watched it on the video broadcast (Sylvia had the car so I could not just hop back to Prevessin, and by that time it looks like the control room had become a zoo anyway). So everything went more-or-less according to plan and a press conference was duly held and a press release has gone out. This evening a few bottles will be sacrificed to keep the gods smiling. The hard work for the operations people has only just begun! At any rate, this event brought back good memories to the days when we commissioned PEP-II at SLAC.

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Well, today is to be the day where collisions are tried at 3.5 TeV on 3.5 TeV for the first time. Obviously, Yours Truly cannot miss this so I had Sylvia & Manni drive me to the control room (so they could keep the car).  The scene was surprisingly tranquil, given the amount of publicity that had been done inside and outside of CERN.

Anyway, after the 8:30 meeting they have every morning (which was very short given the anticipation) we all trundle downstairs into the control room. Things go well until at 0.83 TeV the beams dump and the magnets ramp down again. Diligent hunting for the cause reveals that an electrical disturbance (seen site-wide and not just in the LHC) has apparently caused the trip. Unfortunately, with a machine like this it takes a couple of hours to get things going again so I decide to go and get some work done. Here is a video stream from CERN.

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Last week I flew to San Francisco to attend the first users meeting for FACET, the accelerator test and experimental facility being constructed in my absence which will be operated by my Division next year. The meeting actually went well; I chaired one of the working groups and we will put together an experimental proposal. This ties right in with one aspect of the work I am doing here at CERN, having to do with using crystals to deflect highly energetic particles in a way usually only achievable with very large and expensive magnets. At FACET we will be able to do a series of accurate experiments in particular comparing the deflection of negatively charged electrons and that of their positively charged antiparticles (positrons). FACET should be uniquely suited to this kind of work. At CERN we are doing the same thing with protons.

Being back in the Bay Area was great; I met with Robin who came up from Monterey, having a recording session with PYO that weekend anyway. We had a good time, going to a Keith Jarret concert in SF on Friday evening and having Dinner at Laura & Eric’s place on Saturday.

With all that joy one would think I’d be really loathing to leave again, but strangely enough, not really. In fact I was quite looking forward to coming back to Ferney and CERN and was happy when I had made it home. So I guess I am a little in the Twilight Zone as far as the concept of “home” is concerned… odd.

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Sylvia’s sister was able to get us tickets for an opera performance in Milan at La Scala: The House of the Dead by Janacek.What an exciting opportunity! We left on Friday afternoon and saw the mountains in glorious sunshine (when not going through  tunnels, Mt. Blanc’s being 7 miles long!).  We arrived in Milan when it was dark and got hopelessly lost, but once there we loved our little Hotel Atena on the 2nd floor (there is a sign downstairs-the rest of the house is used otherwise). A restaurant around the corner had true Italian food.

Most Photogenic Roof ever!

Saturday was a full day: first walking on the roof of the Duomo which, with all its spires and buttresses, looks like a small world in itself (oh, so many photos taken there!). Uli claims that this is the closest you can get to actually being in an M.C. Escher picture. Then viewing the Last Supper by Leonardo followed by some other romanic churches with old frescos and mosaics. After that we needed a good strong coffee, Uli enjoys these!

At the end of the day we were in a small art gallery/library where the building was as stunning as the art. After changing for the opera we had a small bite to eat and went to La Scala. It was a breathtaking performance and the theater looks very elegant. We were thrilled we had this opportunity! After the performance we ate a big ice cream bowl.

Sunday we decided to take some smaller streets back home and enjoy the Aosta Valley. We saw old Roman streets, medieval towers and villages as well as a castle in the afternoon. The view from Forte di Bard was breathtaking so I am sharing a photo of it here:

We had sunny weather throughout the trip and so much to see and hear-what a great weekend!

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3. March Lausanne

I got invited by one of Uli’s colleagues to go on an outing  to Lausanne. Terri and I spend a whole day having a great time in spite of the gray weather. We explored the fabulous Gothic cathedral, walked in the old city and discovered another small beautiful church. At lunchtime we listened to a concert with musicians from the conservatory-passionate music from a cellist, pianist and violinist. We sampled some chocolate from a store and had a small lunch: quiche and salad with a heavenly dessert. We need to come back for more Lausanne experience!

Lausanne's Cathedral

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We finally tried out the swimming pool & sauna (pardon, “Centre Nautique!”) in Ferney. A quite nice facility we will certainly peruse more often. Sylvia can even use stationary bikes there to train her knee which is still bothering her. A restaurant/bar is conveniently a part of the facility, for an after-exercise Stella Artois. Just like we used to do in Vancouver (Simon, are you listening?). Curious the coach of a team of swimmers practising there; he screamed and barked at his charges, calling them fools and other names we did not understand, that it was a joy to observe the scene. Definitely army material this guy.

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So the second month of our stay has passed….

The beginning of the week started out with science and photography—I had wanted to take pictures of the famous Large Hadron Collider but right now noone except a select a few VIPs get access to that. So I was fortunate enough that some colleagues of Uli invited us to tour the CLIC Test Facility where development for the next generation of accelerators is being done. I got some science education as well as the opportunity to take photographs. It will be fun to create some abstract pictures with the forms and colors that presented themselves.

Alex demonstrating with her fingers how bunches merge

Uli talking with a collegue in the CLIC experimental facility

At the end of the week we went to an English Lutheran service in Geneva. The pastor is Brazilian and she led the congregation in a truly multilingual service. We sang songs in French, German and Swahili with organ, drum and piano music. The gospel was also read in several languages. It is a small church so the coffee hour is directly afterward in the sanctuary. This made it easy to meet people from all over the world. We continued our day with a visit to the Reformation Museum where we educated ourselves about Calvin and other reformers.

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