Occasional Musings of a Particle Physicist

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait?

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The reason I might now have interesting things to blog about is because I have just started a new job. As of last Monday I am a physicist postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. My position is based away from Berkeley at CERN near Geneva. I am working on the ATLAS Experiment.

ATLAS is one of the so called general purpose detectors measuring the resulting debris from protons collided by the Large Hadron Collider. These collisions are at record energies under laboratory conditions and if you don’t find that exciting then this blog is not for you! The reason we investigate these data is to push the boundaries of our current understanding of the fundamental building blocks of matter and their interactions. At the moment our current theory, the standard model, describes all the data from numerous previous experiments extremely well; however, for interesting technical reasons we know the standard model is not a complete theory: some new physics processes which it can’t explain will more than likely be visible in the LHC collision data.

My intention with this blog is to give an inside view into what working on such an experiment actually involves and occasionally (try to) give my views on the results from CERN as and when they appear. The results are not instant as we have to play a statistical game with the data, distinguishing signatures of what really is new and unknown from substantial backgrounds. These backgrounds we understand in principle from the standard model but their phenomenology (characteristic signature in the detector) is currently at best sophisticated guess work from computer models and must also be verified with the data. So when looking for the new physics signatures patience is required!

Written by Mark

10/10/2010 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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