I had planned to post as I went when I was at Fermilab in May. I even started by posting a lovely and relaxing picture of the dinner I made on May 5th
, before stuff really got going. I have barely had a minute since then, but certainly not a single moment from the time the stuff showed up until I was long gone from Fermilab. I estimate that in the three weeks I was there, I worked over 250 hours, most of which was under insanely stressful deadlines — it was some of the roughest weeks I've ever spent. I have since been told that I'm a grown-up physicist now since I have been to, and nominally survived, a test beam. I maintain that I am still a larval physicist, but maybe now I'm a larva who has ... seen ... things
. When you add to that I had decided to take a course on information technology and society (yes, both in the same course... TSES4005 if you care to look it up) via remote learning (video on demand) while I was down there (a compressed 6 week course in one summer semester), and things went pretty quickly from wtf to holy fuck my anus is bleeding
(a metaphor, my insides stayed inside pretty well... except for the massive head wound, but that was late in the test beam, and a welcome distraction by that time). Overall, it was a terrible experience, but the team succeeded in getting the data we needed (on the last day running, of course, apparently that's just the ways these things tend to work... some are not so lucky and end up having completely wasted their test beam time). The experiment was a success and we got the first real particle data from the very first pre-prototype of the small-strip Thin Gap Chamber (sTGC) design that will be built at facilities all over the world (including Carleton University where I am), and used to build the New Small Wheel (NSW) muon detectors of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN during their 2018 upgrade window. Being involved with that effort was fucking amazing!!! Weighed against the brutality of working as hard as I did, darned if the balance still doesn't fall on the "I am so glad I got the amazing honour to participate as an important team member" side of the equation. Not that I haven't been a complete wreck since then trying to wrap up all the research I was doing last year and finishing my second semester (6 week) summer course (which wrapped up last Friday at 11:52PM when I turned in my final essay). I needed to get a deferral on my take home exam for TSES4005 because I was such a disaster by the time I got back and could attend classes physically, but I ultimately landed an "A" in that course, which I am extremely proud of given how things had been going for me. Oh, and the "small" detectors called the New Small Wheels are actually 10 metres (about 30 feet) in diameter and each
weigh 112,000kg (about a quarter million pounds). Small only in name, when you're this
big, they call you NSW!
So... this is actually more of a photo essay than a lot of gabble from me, but I'll try to explain each image very briefly. For those of you easily disturbed by images of ultra cool physics equipment and physicists, I have put most of it behind a cut. The images are also smallish, but clicking on them (at least the ones under the cut) usually leads to a larger version of it (opened in another tab for your viewing pleasure). I will start by mentioning that Fermilab is in Illinois, and as such does see tornadoes from time to time. There were warning placards all over the place and emergency warning systems in every room and hut on the entire 27.5km2
campus. In the test beam facility (the "Fermilab Test Beam Facility" or "FTBF"), the tornado shelters were... the toilets. But, for some reason, there was a bizarre gendered component to these potentially lifesaving architectural features that left us pondering whether men and women needed separate rooms in which to prepare for doom, or whether tornadoes came in two types... the gentle reader is invited to ponder along with me.
We were experiment T-1049 and this was where we were going to be for three weeks starting May 7th (we showed up a few days early to get ready before things got going officially). The bold squares you can see on the drawing are huge concrete blocks that formed the test beam room that we were going to set up in and which acted as radiation shielding while the accelerator beam was on (we were obviously not in the room when the beam was operating). Heady times were ahead!( Shocking images of amazing physics stuff behind cut... )
And here is the team picture we took on the last day before we tore everything down and packed it away... I'm the guy at the back in the black CKCU t-shirt who looks like Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. If you really want to see the preliminary results from the test (a PDF format poster put together by Estel Perez Codina), I think it is publicly viewable on the CERN TWiki here
(let me know if you try and you can't access it).
And to finish off with an entirely unrelated music video... Reggie Watts, Lara Stone, Malcolm McDowell, and the band Hot Chip in one of the more bizarre creations I have seen (and that's saying something!
). Ends with one of the best pouts I've seen (the only other entrant to the field of music video pouts that I know of is Amanda Palmer's glorious pout at the end of her video for "Leeds United
"... which also contains one of the best brawl scenes in a music video too).