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Think like an experimental particle physicist – second (and last) part February 27, 2009

Posted by dorigo in games, humor, physics, science.
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While putting together the scores to evaluate the answers to the 11 questions of the previous post, I realized that they are not enough for a fair classification. So here are a few more quizzes for those of you who found my effort worth paying back with five more minutes of your time.

  • K) You are found in the library of your Department. Why was that ?
  1. Why, I had an hour to kill…
  2. I am just checking out the new librarian (he/she’s cute).
  3. They told me there are coupons to cut away for free radioactive samples on this month’s issue of Physics Today.
  4. They threatened to expel me if I did not bring back the overdue copy of DH. Perkins’ book.
  • L) How much is 87 times 945 ?
  1. About 80 thousand.
  2. About 82 thousand.
  3. I left my pocket calculator in the office upstairs.
  4. (after a minute)  82,215  (ignore my fast breathing).
  5. 82 215 (mind the space -I take pride in following AIP style rules!).
  6. More or less 10^5.
  • M) The mean-looking airport cop finds an electronic board wrapped in a sweater in your carry-on.
  1. You go back to the check-in counter: you came early on purpose.
  2. You try to explain it is innocuous HEP hardware.
  3. You manage to power it up by fiddling with the laptop power cord to show the two-digit LCD mounted on it does come alive.
  4. You start arguing that the sign with red crosses on lighters, firearms and batteries mentions nothing even vaguely resembling a CAMAC module.
  5. You let them dump it, too bad for science -and whoever uses CAMAC nowadays, after all.
  • N) Your paper draft receives really nasty comments from your collaborators
  1. You write down the names of the bad guys on your small red booklet in the bottom drawer – their time in front of the muzzle will come one day!
  2. You answer in kinds on a rage, with carbon-copy to the spokespersons, making a fool of yourself.
  3. You answer as politely as you can in a very detailed manner, cursing yourself softly while you feel like you’ve bent over.
  4. You decide the paper really is not worth that much and forget about it for a month or two.
  • O) After your presentation is over,  the session convener asks a tough question and you do not even know what he or she is talking about.
  1. You say you do not know the answer and display your best smile, hiding the sweating.
  2. You repeatedly pretend you did not understand the sentence until he or she decides it’s time to move on.
  3. You think it wasn’t such a good idea to grab that last-minute chance for a plenary talk.
  4. You go to a random back-up slide and discuss it in detail for five minutes, trying to look meaningful.
  • P) A science reporter calls and asks you information on the  hunt for supersymmetry.
  1. You feel flattered, get carried away, and end up disclosing reserved information from your experiment.
  2. You direct him or her to the experiment spokespersons.
  3. You pretend you’re the switchboard operator.
  4. You ask what magazine is that for, and after hearing it’s “New Scientist” you hang up.
  • Q) They sent you a paper to be reviewed. It sucks big time.
  1. Feeling true to your duties, you implacably point out each and every imperfection with rigor and an occasional bit of sadism.
  2. You reckon nobody’s going to read the paper anyway, so you send back two lines saying the paper looks ok but would they please use AIP style rules ?
  3. You are fought between your duties and your compassion for the poor post-doc who did most of the work  to get the paper to your desk, and try to balance the two things, ending up screwing both -the author feels raped and the paper does not get any better from your review.
  4. You would never accept to get into an editorial board, it’s just such a waste of research time.
  • R) You are on owl shift and your colleagues are out of the room for coffee and cookies, when every screen turns red, alarms sound, and an ominous-looking warning sign start flashing on the silicon cooling contol panel.
  1. You run to the silicon crash button and press it.
  2. You silence all alarms and fetch the emergency procedures folder, then start reading it
  3. You rush to call your colleagues.
  4. You sneak out, join your colleagues and serve yourself a coffee, then look over the glass door and mention there appears to be  something flashing inside as if you just noticed it.
  • S) You feel you think like an experimental particle physicist because…
  1. You do not work in HEP, but at least one answer in each of the 19 questions above made a lot of sense to you
  2. You read this blog and you think it really does not take much to be a HEP physicist.
  3. You are a theorist and although you have trouble with practicalities you think experimentalists have similar thinking processes.
  4. You are a scientist from another field and you know how to tie your shoes.
  5. You are a scientist from another field and you wear sandals.
  6. You are sure you do not think like an experimental particle physicist in the least.

Some posts you might have missed in 2008 January 5, 2009

Posted by dorigo in cosmology, personal, physics, science.
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To start 2009 with a tidy desk, I wish to put some order in the posts about particle physics I wrote in 2008. By collecting a few links here, I save from oblivion the most meaningful of them -or at least I make them just a bit more accessible. In due time, I will update the “physics made easy” page, but that is work for another free day.

The list below collects in reverse chronological order the posts from the first six months of 2008; tomorrow I will complete the list with the second half of the year. The list does not include guest posts nor conference reports, which may be valuable but belong to a different list (and are linked from permanent pages above).

June 17: A description of a general search performed by CDF for events featuring photons and missing transverse energy along with b-quark jets – a signature which may arise from new physics processes.

June 6: This post reports on the observation of the decay of J/Psi mesons to three photons, a rare and beautiful signature found by CLEO-c.

June 4 and June 5 offer a riddle from a simple measurement of the muon lifetime. Readers are given a description of the experimental apparatus, and they have to figure out what they should expect as the result of the experiment.

May 29: A detailed discussion of the search performed by CDF for a MSSM Higgs boson in the two-tau-lepton decay. Since this final state provided a 2.1-sigma excess in 2007, the topic deserved a careful look, which is provided in the post.

May 20: Commented slides of my talk at PPC 2008, on new results from the CDF experiment.

May 17: A description of the search for dimuon decays of the B mesons in CDF, which provides exclusion limits for a chunk of SUSY parameter space.

May 02 : A description of the search for Higgs bosons in the 4-jet final state, which is dear to me because I worked at that signature in the past.

Apr 29: This post describes the method I am working on to correct the measurement of charged track momenta by the CMS detector.

Apr 23, Apr 28, and May 6: This is a lengthy but simple, general discussion of dark matter searches with hadron colliders, based on a seminar I gave to undergraduate students in Padova. In three parts.

Apr 6 and Apr 11: a detailed two-part description of the detectors of electromagnetic and hadronic showers, and the related physics.

Apr 05: a general discussion of the detectors for LHC and the reasons they are built the way they are.

Mar 29: A discussion of the recent Tevatron results on Higgs boson searches, with some considerations on the chances for the consistence of a light Higgs boson with the available data.

Mar 25: A detailed discussion on the possibility that more than three families of elementary fermions exist, and a description of the latest search by CDF for a fourth-generation quark.

Mar 17: A discussion of the excess of events featuring leptons of the same electric charge, seen by CDF and evidenced by a global search for new physics. Can be read alone or in combination with the former post on the same subject.

Mar 10: This is a discussion of the many measurements obtained by CDF and D0 on the top-quark mass, and their combination, which involves a few subtleties.

Mar 5: This is a discussion of the CDMS dark matter search results, and the implications for Supersymmetry and its parameter space.

Feb 19: This is a divulgative description of the ways by which the proton structure can be studied in hadron collisions, studying the parton distribution functions and how these affect the scattering measurements in proton-antiproton collisions.

Feb 13: A discussion of luminosity, cross sections, and rate of collisions at the LHC, with some easy calculations of the rate of multiple hard interactions.

Jan 31: A summary of the enlightening review talk on the standard model that Guido Altarelli gave in Perugia at a meeting of the italian LHC community.

Jan 13: commented slides of the paper seminar gave by Julien Donini on the measurement of the b-jet energy scale and the p \bar p \to Z X \to b \bar b X cross section, the latter measured for the first time ever at a hadron machine. This is the culmination of a twelve-year effort by me and my group.

Jan 4: An account of the CDF search for Randall-Sundrum gravitons in the ZZ \to eeee final state.