[WARNING: This entry is filled with science geekiness. Turn away now, or I cannot be responsible for the consequences!]

Looking at my calendar this morning, I noticed that February seems to be almost over. Surely this cannot be right! Where did all the time go?

One of the things that the impending Marchness means is that I have two lectures coming up fast -- one in March (Cosmic Rays: Messengers from the Extreme Universe at the Cody Astronomy Society monthly meeting) and one in April (Neutrino Astronomy at the Oxford University Annual Astronomy Weekend).

I am not particularly nervous about the first... as I will essentially recycle a lecture that I gave twice last year. All I really need to do is update with the latest results from the Pierre Auger Observatory, presented at the 2009 International Cosmic Ray Conference. Shouldn't take too long.

Although more interesting to me, preparing the Neutrino Astronomy lecture will take considerably more time. I will, of course, speak about the detection of neutrinos from a supernova burst, the search for relic neutrinos from supernovae in the early universe[*], solar neutrino measurements, searches for correlations with gamma ray bursts, and attempts to detect astrophysical point sources of neutrinos. Some of the cutting edge work here, particularly on the first topics that I mentioned, comes from the Super-Kamiokande experiment... and so I am well acquainted with the state of the art. For other topics, particularly the latter ones on my list, the Ice Cube neutrino telescope -- located at the South Pole -- is really the global leader. This means that I had best find some time soon to catch up on what the Ice Cube people have been doing! Should be rather interesting, if I can only find that magic wand to wave to create the time!

Most of you can stop reading now -- assuming that you have not already! For those who still want more, however, please see the question that I was recently asked the following by my old friend [livejournal.com profile] blaisepascal:
Do you happen to know when KamiokaNDE was shut down for good? I was trying to demonstrate the other day how we can compute a lower-limit on the lifetime of the proton, and I couldn't find how long KamiokaNDE ran for. The Kamioka Observatory web-site doesn't have a lot of information on past experiments, and it doesn't have information on the total runtime of KamiokaNDE.

(FYI, I computed 1034/6 years for KamiokaNDE, and 1035/6 years for Super-K for a 95% confidence level. The Super-K should be higher because I simplified my math by assuming 30k tonnes of water, not 50k tonnes.)


My response -- which began life as an LJ comment but has now risen in the world to the front page -- follows:

That's an interesting question... and I'm not 100% sure about the answer! I would venture, as an educated guess, that Kamiokande was stopped in 1996, because they would not have ceased operations Kamiokande until Super-Kamiokande was running, thus ensuring that neutrinos from a supernova would not be missed. SK began taking data in the halcyon days of April 1996, so I imagine that the original "K" was shut down soon after. To back this up with second-hand anecdotal evidence, I recall hearing that early Super-Kamiokande shift work involved checking in on Kamiokande to make certain that it was still running smoothly.

What I do know is that a colleague who joined Super-K in 1997 got to see a [non-functional] Kamiokande... whereas I, joining in 1998, did not. By that time, the detector had been dismantled and the site was being prepared for construction of the KamLAND detector.

As far as proton decay goes, you may wish to see the following paper from last year: arXiv:0903.0676. This paper reports the latest limits on the lifetime of a proton decaying to a positron plus a neutral pion, as well as the mode where the proton decays to an mu+ and a neutral pion. Alas, I wish the actual limits were so good as yours! The current limit on p -> e+ π0 is 8.2 x 1033 years. That's over an order of magnitude less than your estimate!

One thing that you should know is that the total mass of Super-Kamiokande is 50 kt... but the fiducial mass used for analysis is 22.5 kt. Some of the water is in the outer detector, which serves as a passive shield and an active veto. The inner detector, instrumented for precision neutrino analysis, only contains about 32.5 kt. However, events occurring within two meters of the walls are also disregarded, as the reconstruction for such events is poor[**] and, at the lowest energies, there is a high background. Still the reduction from 30 kt to 22.5 kt would only worsen your limit by 25%... not an order of magnitude. I'm guessing that the main difference is in detection efficiency -- you probably assume a 100% efficiency, whereas the actual detector would not perform so well. Still, take a look at the paper that I linked to and let me know!

So, class..... any questions?


[*] The leading work on this topic was done by your Friendly Neighborhood Nomad, which earned him his PhD.

[**] One of the main projects that I, and two of my Imperial College students, are involved with for T2K is enlarging the volume that we use for analysis. It looks like we may be able to get an 18% increase in statistics... although the work is ongoing and, as such, it is too soon to say for sure.

First things first: I want to thank everyone who shared kind words about last week's good news -- namely the discovery that The Boy does not have cancer. Really, it means a lot. In two days, we should have results for Foxy's next set of tests. This should either confirm or rule out a thyroid problem. If the thyroid is ruled out, then we still do not know what is wrong with her... and a different line of testing will commence. Wish us luck!

Second things second: Don't forget to go to yesterday's entry and vote in my birthday poll! I plan to choose the location for my birthday party tomorrow, provided there seem to be enough people who are interested in (and able to) attend to actually have a party. Otherwise, the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers is planning an outing to Cambridge for that day, to spend time with our counterparts at the other place.

Meanwhile, it has been several days since I updated with any of the goings on in my life. This seems as good a time as any to rectify that... )

Oh, and for those of you still trapped in the States, I should note that the dollar sunk to a new record low today versus the Euro. I did warn some time ago that y'all should get out while you still can. Of course, with most of my life's savings in two pieces of US real estate, the plummeting housing market and US dollar hardly leaves me unscathed, either. Ah well, at least I am earning in sterling now... which is in decline, too, but not as badly. With any luck, the UK will switch to the Euro sometime soon. And I think I see a pig on the wing flying by my office window...


Footnotes )
First things first: I want to thank everyone who shared kind words about last week's good news -- namely the discovery that The Boy does not have cancer. Really, it means a lot. In two days, we should have results for Foxy's next set of tests. This should either confirm or rule out a thyroid problem. If the thyroid is ruled out, then we still do not know what is wrong with her... and a different line of testing will commence. Wish us luck!

Second things second: Don't forget to go to yesterday's entry and vote in my birthday poll! I plan to choose the location for my birthday party tomorrow, provided there seem to be enough people who are interested in (and able to) attend to actually have a party. Otherwise, the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers is planning an outing to Cambridge for that day, to spend time with our counterparts at the other place.

Meanwhile, it has been several days since I updated with any of the goings on in my life. This seems as good a time as any to rectify that... )

Oh, and for those of you still trapped in the States, I should note that the dollar sunk to a new record low today versus the Euro. I did warn some time ago that y'all should get out while you still can. Of course, with most of my life's savings in two pieces of US real estate, the plummeting housing market and US dollar hardly leaves me unscathed, either. Ah well, at least I am earning in sterling now... which is in decline, too, but not as badly. With any luck, the UK will switch to the Euro sometime soon. And I think I see a pig on the wing flying by my office window...


Footnotes )
Actually, it is not a hotel at all but, rather, a very nice dorm suite at Stanford University. In any case, here is a quick update on the trip to SLAC:

Left the Event Horizon yesterday morning without sufficient time to make it to the airport. That made life interesting. It took a couple of minor miracles for me to make it onto my flight. Also, it didn't hurt that I am pretty darn clever... especially where travel matters are concerned. Fighting the Midway Airport bustle at 6am on a Monday morning made me really miss being at Starwood!

Things improved vastly when I got to Stanford. Almost immediately after arriving, I ran into two German colleagues -- one that I worked with in 2001 and one that I work with now. Each was surprised that the other knew me. It's quite fair, though, as I was surprised that they knew each other. Overall, I've seen about eight people here that I know from elsewhere. Indeed, it is an interesting juxtaposition of my past and present experiments, with people here that I know from Super-Kamiokande, the Pierre Auger Observatory, and the CRESST dark matter search. Not to mention some random people from Fermilab and from the last time I attended the Summer Institute here, back in 2000.

The lectures themselves have also been pretty good. Despite being exhausted yesterday, I was able to follow most of what was presented and, during the afternoon discussion session, I managed to ask some questions that were not -- to the best of my sleep-deprived knowledge -- particularly dumb. It is really nice to spend time focusing on the actual physics of dark matter, cosmology, and supersymmetry for awhile, rather than being entirely enmeshed in hardware, R&D, and calibration work. The amusing thought crossed my mind yesterday that I was sitting onsite at a national laboratory listening to prominent physicists lecture about cosmology and whatnot less then thirty-six hours after I was dancing around a six story bonfire on the other side of this country. Ye gads, I do like the diversity that is my life![*]

Outside of the formal structure, the Summer Institute is also about professional networking. I have met quite a number of new people, mostly graduate students and other postdocs. One group that I met is all from the University of Sheffield, in England. Spending time with them has been good... but it also has caused me to slip back into the use of UK English, just when I was finally feeling natural using US English again. Ah well -- there are worse fates.

The programme for the Summer Institute is quite full, starting and 9am and lasting until about 8pm each evening. However, I am plotting to get together with [livejournal.com profile] yavin7 later in the week and, since the weekend is entirely open, I am hoping to see [livejournal.com profile] kat1031 for the first time in about fifteen years. Hopefully the Scheduling Gods will smile down on these plans and bless them for me.

[*] That said, and even though I am having fun here, I certainly would not have minded another week at Brushwood before having to leave. I do miss the magickal space that is Starwood... and I miss [livejournal.com profile] frogcastle.

Actually, it is not a hotel at all but, rather, a very nice dorm suite at Stanford University. In any case, here is a quick update on the trip to SLAC:

Left the Event Horizon yesterday morning without sufficient time to make it to the airport. That made life interesting. It took a couple of minor miracles for me to make it onto my flight. Also, it didn't hurt that I am pretty darn clever... especially where travel matters are concerned. Fighting the Midway Airport bustle at 6am on a Monday morning made me really miss being at Starwood!

Things improved vastly when I got to Stanford. Almost immediately after arriving, I ran into two German colleagues -- one that I worked with in 2001 and one that I work with now. Each was surprised that the other knew me. It's quite fair, though, as I was surprised that they knew each other. Overall, I've seen about eight people here that I know from elsewhere. Indeed, it is an interesting juxtaposition of my past and present experiments, with people here that I know from Super-Kamiokande, the Pierre Auger Observatory, and the CRESST dark matter search. Not to mention some random people from Fermilab and from the last time I attended the Summer Institute here, back in 2000.

The lectures themselves have also been pretty good. Despite being exhausted yesterday, I was able to follow most of what was presented and, during the afternoon discussion session, I managed to ask some questions that were not -- to the best of my sleep-deprived knowledge -- particularly dumb. It is really nice to spend time focusing on the actual physics of dark matter, cosmology, and supersymmetry for awhile, rather than being entirely enmeshed in hardware, R&D, and calibration work. The amusing thought crossed my mind yesterday that I was sitting onsite at a national laboratory listening to prominent physicists lecture about cosmology and whatnot less then thirty-six hours after I was dancing around a six story bonfire on the other side of this country. Ye gads, I do like the diversity that is my life![*]

Outside of the formal structure, the Summer Institute is also about professional networking. I have met quite a number of new people, mostly graduate students and other postdocs. One group that I met is all from the University of Sheffield, in England. Spending time with them has been good... but it also has caused me to slip back into the use of UK English, just when I was finally feeling natural using US English again. Ah well -- there are worse fates.

The programme for the Summer Institute is quite full, starting and 9am and lasting until about 8pm each evening. However, I am plotting to get together with [livejournal.com profile] yavin7 later in the week and, since the weekend is entirely open, I am hoping to see [livejournal.com profile] kat1031 for the first time in about fifteen years. Hopefully the Scheduling Gods will smile down on these plans and bless them for me.

[*] That said, and even though I am having fun here, I certainly would not have minded another week at Brushwood before having to leave. I do miss the magickal space that is Starwood... and I miss [livejournal.com profile] frogcastle.

Taking a break from preparing my job interview talk to read the news. Prominently displayed on the front page of the [virtual] New York Times is the announcement that the Dow Jones just passed 13,000 for the first time. An all-time high! Nowhere on the same page can I find anything mentioning that the dollar-euro exchange rate is less than one tenth of one cent away from becoming an all-time low. Funny that. According to these data, stocks are now worth more dollars than ever which, in turn, are worth less euros than [almost] ever. Money. Feh. More trouble that the whole system is worth...

Back to my job talk, it is going well and also rather quickly. Mainly because I am recycling large pieces of old talks (from both Super-K and Auger) into it. I feel like I am cheating by doing this; like I am copying the homework answers off of somebody else. Only thing is, the "somebody else" in question is actually me.
Taking a break from preparing my job interview talk to read the news. Prominently displayed on the front page of the [virtual] New York Times is the announcement that the Dow Jones just passed 13,000 for the first time. An all-time high! Nowhere on the same page can I find anything mentioning that the dollar-euro exchange rate is less than one tenth of one cent away from becoming an all-time low. Funny that. According to these data, stocks are now worth more dollars than ever which, in turn, are worth less euros than [almost] ever. Money. Feh. More trouble that the whole system is worth...

Back to my job talk, it is going well and also rather quickly. Mainly because I am recycling large pieces of old talks (from both Super-K and Auger) into it. I feel like I am cheating by doing this; like I am copying the homework answers off of somebody else. Only thing is, the "somebody else" in question is actually me.
A couple of weeks ago, [livejournal.com profile] xirpha asked me, via LJ comment, the following question:

May I be so bold to ask as what is your carrier goals? You seem to have spent all of your time that I have known you working as a technician than a scientist. I understand than research is mostly grunt work, but do you hope to run your own research project?

Rather than reply via comment, I thought about my answer... then decided it would be better suited to its own post. A chance to bore my friends to death explain just what it is that experimental particle physicists do. By the way, if any other particle physicists who read my journal want to chime in to add or clarify, please do. I'm talking to you, [livejournal.com profile] gyades and [livejournal.com profile] madandrew!

So, what do we do? In short, a bit of everything. That's not precisely true, of course, but it is not a bad first approximation. To be a good experimental particle physicist, you need to know a good deal physics... and a bunch of maths[**]... and a bit of computer programming... and a fair knowledge of electronics hardware... and computer hardware... and data analysis skills. It also helps to have good writing skills and good presentation skills. Basically, to do good research in my chosen sub-field, you need to be something of a jack of all trades.

Mind you, you don't need to know enough programming to be a code monkey -- though there are definitely people who do! Likewise, you don't need know know enough maths to be a mathematician, nor enough electronics to be an electrical engineer. What you do need is a basic proficiency in all these areas (and more than just basic in the physics, of course!). There are definitely people who have stronger abilities in one area or the other on this list. So you get folks who are predominantly software people, or predominantly hardware people. But it is important to keep a balance! I have seen people who become too enmeshed in the hardware have difficulty advancing their careers, because there is not enough physics output.

I can completely see where the comment comes from about my work seeming more like that of a technician than a scientist. Of late, I have spent a lot of time calibrating thermometers, cooling down dilution refrigerators, and whatnot. On Pierre Auger, I did a small bit of analysis... but most of my time was spent constructing and taking telescope calibration data with a self-contained laser facility. On Auger, that was a bit of a mistake on my part -- I did become too wound up in hardware-only activities. I have had concerns about the same thing happening on CRESST, and have discussed this with my boss. He pointed out that, to advance my career, I need publications that I can point to as being work that I played a major role in. The CRESST data will be analyzed and published -- with my name on the author list -- from the work that I have already done for the experiment. Thus, he feels that I should concentrate on other tasks -- which I cannot, in good conscience, write about here... but may yet get to that private e-mail about them. To get to those tasks, I have had to solve the problems with the Kelvinox, and I have to sort our electronics and calibrate our thermometers. And when those tasks are done, they should lead to publications. If it plays out this way, it is a healthy progression.

[livejournal.com profile] xirpha's question is also natural because he did not know me when I was a graduate student on the Super-Kamiokande experiment. Perhaps my time on Super-K is a better example of how the whole process works:

When I first arrived at SK, I started off doing hardware calibration tasks, like using a radioactive NiCf source to calibrate the detector, and using an electron LINAC (LINear ACcelerator) to do a much better calibration of the detector. As time passed, I also took on software calibration tasks, like measuring the speed of light in Super-K water to an accuracy of 0.7%, monitoring the water transparency on a weekly basis, and monitoring the energy stability of the detector on a semi-annual basis. I also moved on to data analysis tasks, like designing new selection criteria to remove backgrounds and designing a fitter to reconstruct the opening angle of Cherenkov light cones. True, there were also more grunt tasks, like being responsible for an off-line data backup facility (which involved hardware, software, and managerial skills -- not to mention far too much time), and assisting with the upgrade of the detector in 2001 as well as the rebuilding in 2002. Some of the grunt tasks may seem like they had nothing to do with physics (e.g., getting a mine driver's license for Japan).

In the end, however, my single greatest contribution to the experiment -- and to my career to date -- was my dissertation analysis: A search for supernova relic neutrinos (SRN). Though I did not find any, my results were two orders of magnitude (about a factor 100) better than any previous searches... and they were able to rule out some theoretical models. Perhaps more importantly, my results are only a factor of three away from being able to either find the SRN -- opening an age of neutrino cosmology -- or ruling out all models. A factor of three might sound like a long way to go, but consider that I already gained a factor of one hundred over previous experiments. Based on my results, new ideas have sprouted for how that last factor of three can be obtained.

Still, the work was not done with the production of a physics result. Besides simply writing up the analysis and results in my dissertation, I also wrote a paper that was published in Physical Review Letters -- arguably the most august journal in physics -- and was granted first authorship on the paper (out of a collaboration of 125 authors). Said paper has been cited, to date, seventy-two times since it was put on the pre-print server in September 2002. That is seventy-two citations in fifty-five months, or an average of one citation every twenty-three days. Not too shabby! And, of course, in 2002 and 2003, I gave seminars and conference talks on my result.

So there is a picture, from start to finish, of my time on a particular experiment. I did hardware work, calibration work, software work, tonnes of grunt work, data analysis, and -- finally -- produced a physics result. Which was then written up, as well as presented in person, to the scientific community. Of course, I spend five years on Super-Kamiokande, as opposed to only two and a half on Auger and only one (so far) on CRESST. So, while it may seem like I am being more of a "technician" at the moment, this work is actually a part of the research physicist's job... and does eventually lead to producing science.

Clearer now? Any questions? Remember -- there will be a quiz next week!

[*] Eleven years of college, and plenty of knowledge have earned me this useful(?) degree...
[**] I am switching to the British shortening of mathematics.

A couple of weeks ago, [livejournal.com profile] xirpha asked me, via LJ comment, the following question:

May I be so bold to ask as what is your carrier goals? You seem to have spent all of your time that I have known you working as a technician than a scientist. I understand than research is mostly grunt work, but do you hope to run your own research project?

Rather than reply via comment, I thought about my answer... then decided it would be better suited to its own post. A chance to bore my friends to death explain just what it is that experimental particle physicists do. By the way, if any other particle physicists who read my journal want to chime in to add or clarify, please do. I'm talking to you, [livejournal.com profile] gyades and [livejournal.com profile] madandrew!

So, what do we do? In short, a bit of everything. That's not precisely true, of course, but it is not a bad first approximation. To be a good experimental particle physicist, you need to know a good deal physics... and a bunch of maths[**]... and a bit of computer programming... and a fair knowledge of electronics hardware... and computer hardware... and data analysis skills. It also helps to have good writing skills and good presentation skills. Basically, to do good research in my chosen sub-field, you need to be something of a jack of all trades.

Mind you, you don't need to know enough programming to be a code monkey -- though there are definitely people who do! Likewise, you don't need know know enough maths to be a mathematician, nor enough electronics to be an electrical engineer. What you do need is a basic proficiency in all these areas (and more than just basic in the physics, of course!). There are definitely people who have stronger abilities in one area or the other on this list. So you get folks who are predominantly software people, or predominantly hardware people. But it is important to keep a balance! I have seen people who become too enmeshed in the hardware have difficulty advancing their careers, because there is not enough physics output.

I can completely see where the comment comes from about my work seeming more like that of a technician than a scientist. Of late, I have spent a lot of time calibrating thermometers, cooling down dilution refrigerators, and whatnot. On Pierre Auger, I did a small bit of analysis... but most of my time was spent constructing and taking telescope calibration data with a self-contained laser facility. On Auger, that was a bit of a mistake on my part -- I did become too wound up in hardware-only activities. I have had concerns about the same thing happening on CRESST, and have discussed this with my boss. He pointed out that, to advance my career, I need publications that I can point to as being work that I played a major role in. The CRESST data will be analyzed and published -- with my name on the author list -- from the work that I have already done for the experiment. Thus, he feels that I should concentrate on other tasks -- which I cannot, in good conscience, write about here... but may yet get to that private e-mail about them. To get to those tasks, I have had to solve the problems with the Kelvinox, and I have to sort our electronics and calibrate our thermometers. And when those tasks are done, they should lead to publications. If it plays out this way, it is a healthy progression.

[livejournal.com profile] xirpha's question is also natural because he did not know me when I was a graduate student on the Super-Kamiokande experiment. Perhaps my time on Super-K is a better example of how the whole process works:

When I first arrived at SK, I started off doing hardware calibration tasks, like using a radioactive NiCf source to calibrate the detector, and using an electron LINAC (LINear ACcelerator) to do a much better calibration of the detector. As time passed, I also took on software calibration tasks, like measuring the speed of light in Super-K water to an accuracy of 0.7%, monitoring the water transparency on a weekly basis, and monitoring the energy stability of the detector on a semi-annual basis. I also moved on to data analysis tasks, like designing new selection criteria to remove backgrounds and designing a fitter to reconstruct the opening angle of Cherenkov light cones. True, there were also more grunt tasks, like being responsible for an off-line data backup facility (which involved hardware, software, and managerial skills -- not to mention far too much time), and assisting with the upgrade of the detector in 2001 as well as the rebuilding in 2002. Some of the grunt tasks may seem like they had nothing to do with physics (e.g., getting a mine driver's license for Japan).

In the end, however, my single greatest contribution to the experiment -- and to my career to date -- was my dissertation analysis: A search for supernova relic neutrinos (SRN). Though I did not find any, my results were two orders of magnitude (about a factor 100) better than any previous searches... and they were able to rule out some theoretical models. Perhaps more importantly, my results are only a factor of three away from being able to either find the SRN -- opening an age of neutrino cosmology -- or ruling out all models. A factor of three might sound like a long way to go, but consider that I already gained a factor of one hundred over previous experiments. Based on my results, new ideas have sprouted for how that last factor of three can be obtained.

Still, the work was not done with the production of a physics result. Besides simply writing up the analysis and results in my dissertation, I also wrote a paper that was published in Physical Review Letters -- arguably the most august journal in physics -- and was granted first authorship on the paper (out of a collaboration of 125 authors). Said paper has been cited, to date, seventy-two times since it was put on the pre-print server in September 2002. That is seventy-two citations in fifty-five months, or an average of one citation every twenty-three days. Not too shabby! And, of course, in 2002 and 2003, I gave seminars and conference talks on my result.

So there is a picture, from start to finish, of my time on a particular experiment. I did hardware work, calibration work, software work, tonnes of grunt work, data analysis, and -- finally -- produced a physics result. Which was then written up, as well as presented in person, to the scientific community. Of course, I spend five years on Super-Kamiokande, as opposed to only two and a half on Auger and only one (so far) on CRESST. So, while it may seem like I am being more of a "technician" at the moment, this work is actually a part of the research physicist's job... and does eventually lead to producing science.

Clearer now? Any questions? Remember -- there will be a quiz next week!

[*] Eleven years of college, and plenty of knowledge have earned me this useful(?) degree...
[**] I am switching to the British shortening of mathematics.

No coherence between topics in tonight's entry, so don't expect any. Just sayin'
  • Finished reading The Nine Tailors in my hotel room before dinner tonight. It is the first Dorothy Sayers novel that I have read. Indeed, I am not a big mystery reader, so it is unlikely that I would have ever picked up the book had it not focused heavily on change bell ringing. That said, I thought it was excellently written, with intricate and elaborate detail. I may end up reading other books by her, particularly those featuring Bruce Wayne Lord Peter Wimsey. The book also made me missing bell ringing, which I have been doing less frequently between terms. Yes, it has only been six days since I pulled some rope -- and eight days until I do so again -- but I miss it nonetheless. I should practice some Plain Bob Minor for handbells to pass the time until then.

  • Finished the New Super Mario Bros. after dinner tonight. First time I have beaten a video game in a couple of years. It was fun. The Kiddo picked a good Christmas present for me. I may go back and play it a bit more, just to beat it even more completely. For instance, I never discovered how to access worlds four and seven. There is something a bit odd, though, about hearing the stereotypical Italian accent that Mario sports... while I am here in Italy. Mildly jarring, when compared to the real thing that is all around me.

  • Speaking of Christmas, and because I was playing with photos last night, here is a shot of me taken by [livejournal.com profile] theentwife in New York City last December, while we were out and about with [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and a few others. It is behind a cut, just to save time for your browser. Aren't I nice? )

  • Many wishes for a very happy birthday to the ever-wonderful [livejournal.com profile] ms_redcat!!! Big virtual hugs for you, sweetie -- redeemable for real ones next time I see you! (And is it mean to point out that you are now older than me again?)

  • It has been like Old Home WeekTM here at Gran Sasso. Apparently there is a meeting of some of the European collaborators from Pierre Auger, in preparation for the 2007 International Cosmic Ray Conference. Thus, I keep running into old and familiar faces from when I was a member of that august collaboration.
And that's about all the randomness flowing through my head for today. Time to go back to the hotel and catch some sleep before our video conference tomorrow morning...
No coherence between topics in tonight's entry, so don't expect any. Just sayin'
  • Finished reading The Nine Tailors in my hotel room before dinner tonight. It is the first Dorothy Sayers novel that I have read. Indeed, I am not a big mystery reader, so it is unlikely that I would have ever picked up the book had it not focused heavily on change bell ringing. That said, I thought it was excellently written, with intricate and elaborate detail. I may end up reading other books by her, particularly those featuring Bruce Wayne Lord Peter Wimsey. The book also made me missing bell ringing, which I have been doing less frequently between terms. Yes, it has only been six days since I pulled some rope -- and eight days until I do so again -- but I miss it nonetheless. I should practice some Plain Bob Minor for handbells to pass the time until then.

  • Finished the New Super Mario Bros. after dinner tonight. First time I have beaten a video game in a couple of years. It was fun. The Kiddo picked a good Christmas present for me. I may go back and play it a bit more, just to beat it even more completely. For instance, I never discovered how to access worlds four and seven. There is something a bit odd, though, about hearing the stereotypical Italian accent that Mario sports... while I am here in Italy. Mildly jarring, when compared to the real thing that is all around me.

  • Speaking of Christmas, and because I was playing with photos last night, here is a shot of me taken by [livejournal.com profile] theentwife in New York City last December, while we were out and about with [livejournal.com profile] squeektoy42 and a few others. It is behind a cut, just to save time for your browser. Aren't I nice? )

  • Many wishes for a very happy birthday to the ever-wonderful [livejournal.com profile] ms_redcat!!! Big virtual hugs for you, sweetie -- redeemable for real ones next time I see you! (And is it mean to point out that you are now older than me again?)

  • It has been like Old Home WeekTM here at Gran Sasso. Apparently there is a meeting of some of the European collaborators from Pierre Auger, in preparation for the 2007 International Cosmic Ray Conference. Thus, I keep running into old and familiar faces from when I was a member of that august collaboration.
And that's about all the randomness flowing through my head for today. Time to go back to the hotel and catch some sleep before our video conference tomorrow morning...
In Paris now... which makes it pretty obvious that the last minute planning worked out.

Although there is a net connection at my hotel, I do not expect to spend a lot of time on-line in the three days that I am here. Thus, today's update will be at double-speed:

Bell ringing: Last night I rang bells at Mary Mag with the OUSCR. I have paid my dues for this term, so I am officially a member. I rang called changes twice. In between, Claire brought two of us beginners and a couple of experienced ringers downstairs to do an exercise with handbells. It was a very silly exercise which involved lining up in our initial order, then swapping places physically as the changes were called. It was exactly the sort of silly exercise that seems very basic, and you laugh at it... but it teaches you a lot. They also demonstrated Plain Hunt Doubles (five bells) in the same method, for us to watch. As they were putting away the handbells, I asked if us newbies could try. I'm a Hampshire College student -- I don't get along well with just sitting and watching. Besides, as Sophocles said: "One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try." Claire was a bit surprised by my request, since we are still learning called changes, but there was no harm in trying. And it went well.

University stuff: Went to lunch today at Linacre College with SS, who is a theoretical physics professor at Oxford. I met him when I worked on Auger, as he had come to Malargue once or twice. We commiserated on being vegetarians in Argentina. I have seen him a number of times since moving here, but he only just noticed me on Monday. And invited me to come to lunch at his college on Wednesday. Members of a college are entitled to free meals in the common room. Linacre is one of the newest colleges, founded only in 1962. It is also a graduate college -- no undergrad students. So the dining hall was very different than my experience eating in the dining hall of St. Johns College last March. St. Johns is a moderately old college (founded 1455) and the richest of the colleges in the UK. At Linacre, the dining hall looks just like what you would expect of a modern upscale college dining hall. At St. Johns, the dining hall looks like the stuff of legend, with enormous portraits of past masters on the exceedingly high walls. If any of you recall the Hogwarts dining hall from the Harry Potter movies, it looked a lot like that. But not quite... since those scenes were filmed down the road in the dining hall at Christ Church College, not St. Johns. As a post-doc, I do not have a college affiliation... but there are ways to get one. I need to investigate further, because I really would like to be a member of a college. Preferably one of the older ones (16th century or older).

Travel: Mostly uneventful. Beat world 5 on the New Super Mario Bros. Finished the introduction to the Arden Shakespeare's version of King Richard III and began reading the play proper. Ate a very tasty ploughman's sandwich. For some reason, passport control at Charles De Gaul doesn't ever stamp my passport. Weird. The only real excitement of the trip came at the train station, when some plainclothes French customs officials wanted to inspect my bags. They flashed their badges... but I have no idea what a French customs official's badge looks like. So I wasn't sure if it were legit, or if these were scam artists trying to make off with my stuff. Long story short: It was legit and everything turned out okay. Don't know why they targeted me, though, and in the train station, no less. Doesn't matter what country: I hate cops.

Okay, time to get some rest before the meeting begins tomorrow morning. If I am going to keep attending meetings here, which seems likely as the French IAP (Institut d'Astro-Physique) is based in Montparnasse, I am going to need to make a Paris icon. Maybe one of my photos of either the Eiffel Tower or the Arc du Triomphe will work...
In Paris now... which makes it pretty obvious that the last minute planning worked out.

Although there is a net connection at my hotel, I do not expect to spend a lot of time on-line in the three days that I am here. Thus, today's update will be at double-speed:

Bell ringing: Last night I rang bells at Mary Mag with the OUSCR. I have paid my dues for this term, so I am officially a member. I rang called changes twice. In between, Claire brought two of us beginners and a couple of experienced ringers downstairs to do an exercise with handbells. It was a very silly exercise which involved lining up in our initial order, then swapping places physically as the changes were called. It was exactly the sort of silly exercise that seems very basic, and you laugh at it... but it teaches you a lot. They also demonstrated Plain Hunt Doubles (five bells) in the same method, for us to watch. As they were putting away the handbells, I asked if us newbies could try. I'm a Hampshire College student -- I don't get along well with just sitting and watching. Besides, as Sophocles said: "One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try." Claire was a bit surprised by my request, since we are still learning called changes, but there was no harm in trying. And it went well.

University stuff: Went to lunch today at Linacre College with SS, who is a theoretical physics professor at Oxford. I met him when I worked on Auger, as he had come to Malargue once or twice. We commiserated on being vegetarians in Argentina. I have seen him a number of times since moving here, but he only just noticed me on Monday. And invited me to come to lunch at his college on Wednesday. Members of a college are entitled to free meals in the common room. Linacre is one of the newest colleges, founded only in 1962. It is also a graduate college -- no undergrad students. So the dining hall was very different than my experience eating in the dining hall of St. Johns College last March. St. Johns is a moderately old college (founded 1455) and the richest of the colleges in the UK. At Linacre, the dining hall looks just like what you would expect of a modern upscale college dining hall. At St. Johns, the dining hall looks like the stuff of legend, with enormous portraits of past masters on the exceedingly high walls. If any of you recall the Hogwarts dining hall from the Harry Potter movies, it looked a lot like that. But not quite... since those scenes were filmed down the road in the dining hall at Christ Church College, not St. Johns. As a post-doc, I do not have a college affiliation... but there are ways to get one. I need to investigate further, because I really would like to be a member of a college. Preferably one of the older ones (16th century or older).

Travel: Mostly uneventful. Beat world 5 on the New Super Mario Bros. Finished the introduction to the Arden Shakespeare's version of King Richard III and began reading the play proper. Ate a very tasty ploughman's sandwich. For some reason, passport control at Charles De Gaul doesn't ever stamp my passport. Weird. The only real excitement of the trip came at the train station, when some plainclothes French customs officials wanted to inspect my bags. They flashed their badges... but I have no idea what a French customs official's badge looks like. So I wasn't sure if it were legit, or if these were scam artists trying to make off with my stuff. Long story short: It was legit and everything turned out okay. Don't know why they targeted me, though, and in the train station, no less. Doesn't matter what country: I hate cops.

Okay, time to get some rest before the meeting begins tomorrow morning. If I am going to keep attending meetings here, which seems likely as the French IAP (Institut d'Astro-Physique) is based in Montparnasse, I am going to need to make a Paris icon. Maybe one of my photos of either the Eiffel Tower or the Arc du Triomphe will work...
anarchist_nomad: (Doctor Nomad)
( Oct. 23rd, 2006 07:33 pm)
So, as my last entry notes, yesterday I flew to Oxford. Eight weeks from today, I have tickets to fly back to Chicago (though I will try to change them to a day or two earlier, to have another weekend to spend on my holiday vacation). So, with my mental and psychic batteries recharged from my October vacation, I now have fifty-six days in which to accomplish two very concrete and substantial goals:

#1) Cool the K-400 cryostat down to base temperature (5 mK).
#2) Produce something that we can put into the cryostat.

The first goal, as long-time readers of the journal know, has been sparring with me for quite some time. However, we have ruled out obvious problems and are now calling in the professionals from Oxford Instruments. I plan to begin another cool-down this week, which will not achieve base temperature... but should give us data that will be useful to the technicians. With a little luck, I shall emerge triumphant over this meddling dilution refrigerator soon!

The second goal is actually much more interesting than the first... but I can only talk cryptically about it here. I consider all information put out over LiveJournal to be in the public domain, and this work is most definitely not. Over more private lines of communication (e.g., e-mail, phone calls, or in person), I will be happy to chat about that particular work. It is by no means considered to be classified or confidential. Just not yet ready to go out to the whole wide world...

On a different work-related note, the technical paper that I wrote on the Central Laser Facility at the Pierre Auger Observatory was just accepted for publication by the Journal of Instrumentation. Go me -- rock on! (Plus, this was my final major obligation to my previous job... and it is nice to have successfully discharged it)
anarchist_nomad: (Doctor Nomad)
( Oct. 23rd, 2006 07:33 pm)
So, as my last entry notes, yesterday I flew to Oxford. Eight weeks from today, I have tickets to fly back to Chicago (though I will try to change them to a day or two earlier, to have another weekend to spend on my holiday vacation). So, with my mental and psychic batteries recharged from my October vacation, I now have fifty-six days in which to accomplish two very concrete and substantial goals:

#1) Cool the K-400 cryostat down to base temperature (5 mK).
#2) Produce something that we can put into the cryostat.

The first goal, as long-time readers of the journal know, has been sparring with me for quite some time. However, we have ruled out obvious problems and are now calling in the professionals from Oxford Instruments. I plan to begin another cool-down this week, which will not achieve base temperature... but should give us data that will be useful to the technicians. With a little luck, I shall emerge triumphant over this meddling dilution refrigerator soon!

The second goal is actually much more interesting than the first... but I can only talk cryptically about it here. I consider all information put out over LiveJournal to be in the public domain, and this work is most definitely not. Over more private lines of communication (e.g., e-mail, phone calls, or in person), I will be happy to chat about that particular work. It is by no means considered to be classified or confidential. Just not yet ready to go out to the whole wide world...

On a different work-related note, the technical paper that I wrote on the Central Laser Facility at the Pierre Auger Observatory was just accepted for publication by the Journal of Instrumentation. Go me -- rock on! (Plus, this was my final major obligation to my previous job... and it is nice to have successfully discharged it)
...It's SUPER-Physicist!

Actually, I doubt that I have any claim to that title, especially given the posts I've been reading from [livejournal.com profile] madandrew lately. But, aside from the obvious reasons, being in Paris was wonderful simply because it was a weekend (plus a Monday) off. Before the Paris trip, I had worked through the past two weekends... and it was beginning to take its toll. By the end of the week, my good mood was definitely eroding as burnout crept in. I need to learn not to work myself quite so hard, just for the sake of my general well-being.

Since getting back, I have been working on a number of projects, past and present. I received an e-mail from a prominent neutrino theorist who is interested in using the dissertation research that I conducted on Super-Kamiokande. We spoke at a conference in Tsukuba in 2003, actually, but nothing much has happened until now. Unlike most people who cite my paper on Supernova Relic Neutrinos, he is not at all interested in the signal that I was searching for but, rather, my background: Low energy atmospheric neutrinos. I probably have the best (only?) measurement of these neutrinos at their lowest energies, which makes my paper interesting in ways that it was not intended.

Besides SK, my time on the Pierre Auger Observatory has also been coming back into the spotlight. The technical paper that I wrote on the Central Laser Facility is progressing on its way to publication. And, on another note, I received an e-mail from an Auger collaborator asking about an observation I made during the roving laser calibration campaign of May 2005.

Of course, in addition to tending to my past experiments, I am also preparing to make one more attempt at cooling down the Kelvinox-400 cryostat before leaving for my vacation in the States next Thursday. I doubt that we will attain base temperature, but I am hoping to rule of the last of the potential problems so that we can finally call in the experts from Oxford Instruments.


Balancing out all this work, and attempting to avoid a relapse of burnout, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I played games with the Board Game Club on Wednesday evening. We played a very close four-person game of Settlers of Catan. I came a stone's throw from winning; if the player who won had not won exactly when he did, I was going to play my third soldier and win on my next next turn. Ah, well. We also played the Hunters & Gatherers version of Carcassonne, with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat emerging victorious.

Thursday evening was another bell-ringing lesson at St. Giles Church. This was my third lesson... and, for the first time, I actually got to ring the bells in four rounds (previously, I had only practiced on tied bells, which make no sound). Although I can now do both the backstroke and the handstroke, I have not yet done them both together. So I rang handstroke in two rounds and backstroke in the other two. I will miss the next few Thursdays, since I will be in the States, but I am very much looking forward to continuing these lessons when I get back to Oxford in late October.


Finally, I should just follow up this story by announcing that I did not get the faculty position that I had applied for. This comes as no surprise, especially since my rejection comes for exactly the reason I expected: Too little experience (only six months so far) working with cryogenic detectors. I knew it was a long shot going in, though, so I am taking the news in stride. And I have a plan for how to progress, career-wise, for the next year or so.

...It's SUPER-Physicist!

Actually, I doubt that I have any claim to that title, especially given the posts I've been reading from [livejournal.com profile] madandrew lately. But, aside from the obvious reasons, being in Paris was wonderful simply because it was a weekend (plus a Monday) off. Before the Paris trip, I had worked through the past two weekends... and it was beginning to take its toll. By the end of the week, my good mood was definitely eroding as burnout crept in. I need to learn not to work myself quite so hard, just for the sake of my general well-being.

Since getting back, I have been working on a number of projects, past and present. I received an e-mail from a prominent neutrino theorist who is interested in using the dissertation research that I conducted on Super-Kamiokande. We spoke at a conference in Tsukuba in 2003, actually, but nothing much has happened until now. Unlike most people who cite my paper on Supernova Relic Neutrinos, he is not at all interested in the signal that I was searching for but, rather, my background: Low energy atmospheric neutrinos. I probably have the best (only?) measurement of these neutrinos at their lowest energies, which makes my paper interesting in ways that it was not intended.

Besides SK, my time on the Pierre Auger Observatory has also been coming back into the spotlight. The technical paper that I wrote on the Central Laser Facility is progressing on its way to publication. And, on another note, I received an e-mail from an Auger collaborator asking about an observation I made during the roving laser calibration campaign of May 2005.

Of course, in addition to tending to my past experiments, I am also preparing to make one more attempt at cooling down the Kelvinox-400 cryostat before leaving for my vacation in the States next Thursday. I doubt that we will attain base temperature, but I am hoping to rule of the last of the potential problems so that we can finally call in the experts from Oxford Instruments.


Balancing out all this work, and attempting to avoid a relapse of burnout, [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat and I played games with the Board Game Club on Wednesday evening. We played a very close four-person game of Settlers of Catan. I came a stone's throw from winning; if the player who won had not won exactly when he did, I was going to play my third soldier and win on my next next turn. Ah, well. We also played the Hunters & Gatherers version of Carcassonne, with [livejournal.com profile] cheshcat emerging victorious.

Thursday evening was another bell-ringing lesson at St. Giles Church. This was my third lesson... and, for the first time, I actually got to ring the bells in four rounds (previously, I had only practiced on tied bells, which make no sound). Although I can now do both the backstroke and the handstroke, I have not yet done them both together. So I rang handstroke in two rounds and backstroke in the other two. I will miss the next few Thursdays, since I will be in the States, but I am very much looking forward to continuing these lessons when I get back to Oxford in late October.


Finally, I should just follow up this story by announcing that I did not get the faculty position that I had applied for. This comes as no surprise, especially since my rejection comes for exactly the reason I expected: Too little experience (only six months so far) working with cryogenic detectors. I knew it was a long shot going in, though, so I am taking the news in stride. And I have a plan for how to progress, career-wise, for the next year or so.

anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( May. 26th, 2006 07:41 pm)
For the most part, this entry is really just an update on some things mentioned in previous entries this month.

  • First, in this entry, I talked about how the mailboxes all say "E II R", but how I had spotted an older one bearing "G VI R" from King George the Sixth's reign (1936 - 1952). [livejournal.com profile] polyfrog chimed in, pointing out that he had seen an older box, bearing the brand "G V R" (King George the Fifth reigned from 1910 - 1936). Well, I took a dinner break yesterday to grab some take away and, by chance, noticed a mailbox very near to the building where I work. I've seen in dozens of times, and it does have a large "E R" on it. However, I noticed last night that the small Roman numeral between the letters was not the usual "II". Nope, this box said "E VII R". Well, there has not been a Queen Elizabeth the Seventh yet... so either this mailbox has had access to the Tardis, or some other time travelling device, or it was put there during the reign of King Edward the Seventh, who ruled prior to George the Fifth, from 1901 - 1910. Now I have to keep an eye out for a mailbox bearing "V R", for Victoria Regina, who reigned before Edward the Seventh. There won't be a numeral, since she was the first (and, so far, only) Queen Victoria. I'm such a geek, I know.

  • Next, for those of you living in the United States, you can breath a sigh of relief, as your currency seems to have halted its nose-dive into the toilet. In this entry, I talked about how the dollar had plummeted from an exchange rate of $1.745/pound when I arrived in England -- two months ago today -- to about $1.845/pound. After that entry, the dollar continued to drop, hitting a low value of $1.891/pound on the same day that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia arrived here. That's a 7.7% loss of value in a fairly short time! I am quite glad that I changed my cash before that, otherwise I would have lost a couple hundred dollars! Since then, however, the dollar has stabilized a bit... and even recovered some of its value. As of this evening, the exchange was back down to $1.857/pound:


    I'm really such a geek... I know!

  • Third, in last night's entry, I talked about attempting to cool down the K-400 cryostat with liquid helium. Although we found the reason that we were unsuccessful last night, we tried again today... and still had no luck. The problem of last night is definitely solved -- its symptoms are gone -- but there is some new problem, and we are not sure what it is yet. We used up all our helium blowing cold gas, with no significant accumulation of liquid in the cryostat. This is too bad, because the liquefier down the road is acting up again, plus there is a holiday weekend, so we will not get any more helium until Tuesday, at the earliest. Since I am leaving for Italy on Wednesday -- the tickets are now purchased -- I will not be able to cool down the cryostat before going to Gran Sasso. This is somewhat of a disappointment. However, I am gaining an appreciation for how complex these cryostats are... and how difficult it is to work with them. When properly cooled down, they are colder than the universe. That's pretty darn cold!



Finally, not related to any recent post, I have talked before about the state of particle physics in the United States and how it is being choked to death )

For the record, anyone getting bored by all the talk of physics that has beset this journal lately can blame [livejournal.com profile] blaisepascal and company for
asking me to write more about my work. For those who did ask, I hope that the recent commentary is interesting. If not, and you are being bored to tears by all this talk of liquid refrigerants and cryostats, just remember that experimental particle physicists have to do an awful lot of stuff (e.g., hardware construction, electronics, software, data analysis) before we reach any of the exciting physics results.
anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( May. 26th, 2006 07:41 pm)
For the most part, this entry is really just an update on some things mentioned in previous entries this month.

  • First, in this entry, I talked about how the mailboxes all say "E II R", but how I had spotted an older one bearing "G VI R" from King George the Sixth's reign (1936 - 1952). [livejournal.com profile] polyfrog chimed in, pointing out that he had seen an older box, bearing the brand "G V R" (King George the Fifth reigned from 1910 - 1936). Well, I took a dinner break yesterday to grab some take away and, by chance, noticed a mailbox very near to the building where I work. I've seen in dozens of times, and it does have a large "E R" on it. However, I noticed last night that the small Roman numeral between the letters was not the usual "II". Nope, this box said "E VII R". Well, there has not been a Queen Elizabeth the Seventh yet... so either this mailbox has had access to the Tardis, or some other time travelling device, or it was put there during the reign of King Edward the Seventh, who ruled prior to George the Fifth, from 1901 - 1910. Now I have to keep an eye out for a mailbox bearing "V R", for Victoria Regina, who reigned before Edward the Seventh. There won't be a numeral, since she was the first (and, so far, only) Queen Victoria. I'm such a geek, I know.

  • Next, for those of you living in the United States, you can breath a sigh of relief, as your currency seems to have halted its nose-dive into the toilet. In this entry, I talked about how the dollar had plummeted from an exchange rate of $1.745/pound when I arrived in England -- two months ago today -- to about $1.845/pound. After that entry, the dollar continued to drop, hitting a low value of $1.891/pound on the same day that [livejournal.com profile] cassiopia arrived here. That's a 7.7% loss of value in a fairly short time! I am quite glad that I changed my cash before that, otherwise I would have lost a couple hundred dollars! Since then, however, the dollar has stabilized a bit... and even recovered some of its value. As of this evening, the exchange was back down to $1.857/pound:


    I'm really such a geek... I know!

  • Third, in last night's entry, I talked about attempting to cool down the K-400 cryostat with liquid helium. Although we found the reason that we were unsuccessful last night, we tried again today... and still had no luck. The problem of last night is definitely solved -- its symptoms are gone -- but there is some new problem, and we are not sure what it is yet. We used up all our helium blowing cold gas, with no significant accumulation of liquid in the cryostat. This is too bad, because the liquefier down the road is acting up again, plus there is a holiday weekend, so we will not get any more helium until Tuesday, at the earliest. Since I am leaving for Italy on Wednesday -- the tickets are now purchased -- I will not be able to cool down the cryostat before going to Gran Sasso. This is somewhat of a disappointment. However, I am gaining an appreciation for how complex these cryostats are... and how difficult it is to work with them. When properly cooled down, they are colder than the universe. That's pretty darn cold!



Finally, not related to any recent post, I have talked before about the state of particle physics in the United States and how it is being choked to death )

For the record, anyone getting bored by all the talk of physics that has beset this journal lately can blame [livejournal.com profile] blaisepascal and company for
asking me to write more about my work. For those who did ask, I hope that the recent commentary is interesting. If not, and you are being bored to tears by all this talk of liquid refrigerants and cryostats, just remember that experimental particle physicists have to do an awful lot of stuff (e.g., hardware construction, electronics, software, data analysis) before we reach any of the exciting physics results.
Occasionally, I check the preprint server to see how many citations my paper has had. Although there are close to twenty professional publications where I am listed as an author, this particular paper is the one that I count as mine, since I both wrote the paper and performed the analysis. Basically, my paper is the one that presents the results of my dissertation analysis. I am quite proud of it, partially because it is my dissertation analysis and partially because I am the first author on a paper by a large (~120 member) collaboration published in the most respected physics journal (Physical Review Letters).

Anyway, since the paper was released to the preprint server in September 2002 (publication in PRL did not happen until February 2003), I have noticed that the number of citations it has received has averaged about one per month. The past half-year has been busy and, as such, I have not checked on it in some time. Checking yesterday, I see that there are at least six new citations, for a total of fifty-six in a total of forty-four months. That's an average of 1.27 citations per month. Not too shabby. I haven't discovered neutrino oscillation, or anything exciting like that, but still quite respectable!

The reason that I thought to check on the citations yesterday is that I was speaking to a professor here at Oxford who heard me present my results at the 28th International Cosmic Ray Conference in Japan, back in 2003. He and I actually had a bit of a conversation after my talk, as he is interested in the low energy atmospheric neutrinos that made up the irreducible background for my supernova relic neutrino (SRN) search.

To be honest, I haven't thought about the SRN in anything other than the most general terms for quite a number of months. Maybe longer. Then, this evening, I receive an e-mail (sent to both my FNAL and Oxford addresses -- so it must be serious) from a well known neutrino theorist. She is working to reproduce the results presented in my thesis and is asking me for numerical files corresponding to some of the figures in my dissertation. How's that for coincidence? So it looks like I'm going to need to track down and dig through some old work to find what she is looking for. That's the "Past" part of this post.


The "Present" part is slightly cheating -- it is actually the recent past. While on Auger, I worked extensively on the construction, calibration, maintenance, and operation of a Central Laser Facility (CLF). Before leaving Fermilab, I drafted a technical paper about the CLF, which is currently circulating amongst internal reviewers in the collaboration will hopefully soon be submitted to a refereed journal for publication. I spent nearly an entire day last week implementing comments and suggestions from two collaborators and I before I go home tonight, I need to poke LRW and remind him to re-make Figure 6 for the paper.

[Addendum: Less then two hours after writing this, I got an e-mail from the chair of the Auger Publications Committee regarding the CLF paper and the road to journal submission.]


And the "Future", of course, is here at Oxford, working on the CRESST experiment in the cryodetector group. Technically, this is the present but, as I have only been here for a little over a month, I still have a long way to go before I am able to contribute effectively. Lately, with our supply of liquid helium currently depleted (and the department's liquefier currently non-operational), I have been reading like it was going out of style. I am concurrently reading a CRESST dissertation, a textbook on low temperature physics, a safety manual, and the manual for ROOT (a powerful physics analysis tool). Speaking of CRESST, here is an short-but-interesting recent article from New Scientist about the experiment.


So, interestingly enough, Past and Present and Future have all collided. I now have tasks to do related to Super-Kamiokande, the Pierre Auger Observatory, and the CRESST experiment. I guess these multi-experiment demands are some sort of indication that I am coming into maturity as a physicist. Of course, that doesn't even count the time I am spending reading about the D-Zero experiment, for I am also editing [livejournal.com profile] gyades's dissertation.

Hopefully this post will satisfy those folks who were asking for more physics content in this space.

.

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