UK News from CERN Issue 65

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Issue 65 contents

13TeV proton collisions

Proton pause

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The LHC’s 2015 proton run has come to a successful conclusion.

Tim Peake’s TimPix

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When Tim Peake blasts off for the International Space Station, a tiny piece of technology will be in his pocket.

Beamline for schools

Experiment at CERN

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Calling all schools - the 2016 Beamline 4 Schools competition is about to open!

Matthew Eyton-Jones

Appreciating assets

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Pensions are important, but we often don’t give much thought to the people who look after our retirement pot.

Fay Chicken

International success

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The CERN Technician Training Experience has notched up another success!


 

Proton pause

Proton collisions

One of the first 13TeV proton-proton collisions to be recorded by the ATLAS detector on 3 June 2015
(Credit: ATLAS Collaboration/CERN)

The LHC’s 2015 proton run has come to a successful conclusion.

Since June, the LHC has delivered the equivalent of about 400 trillion proton-proton collisions – 4 inverse femtobarns of data – to both the ATLAS and CMS experiments. LHCb and ALICE have also enjoyed successful data taking at lower collision rates.

"The accelerator has been performing well given the challenges of running at the new collision energy of 13 TeV," says Mike Lamont from the LHC Operations team. "We're currently running with 2244 bunches of protons in the machine, spaced at intervals of 25 nanoseconds, which is an achievement in itself."

The new energy regime has highlighted several issues for the Operations team, including increased electron-cloud effects at high beam intensities, and falling particles of dust inside the beam-pipe causing premature beam dumps. To resolve these issues, the team has been patiently ramping up the beam intensity over a period of weeks using small numbers of bunches in various configurations.

With the LHC now confidently colliding protons at 13 TeV, CERN engineers will now prepare the accelerator to collide lead ions. Proton-proton collisions will return in Spring 2016.

UK News from CERN will be taking a closer look at the heavy ion programme in the next issue.

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Tim Peake’s TimPix

TimPix

(Credit: Institute for Research in Schools)

When British Astronaut Tim Peake blasts off for the International Space Station next month, a tiny piece of technology that is part of the CERN@School project will be in his pocket.

Whilst living on board the International Space Station (ISS) astronauts and cosmonauts come into contact with radiation from a variety of sources. This can be monitored using the Timepix hybrid silicon pixel detector, with data being downloaded on the ground at regular intervals. The detectors themselves measure the type - alpha, beta, gamma, Minimum Ionising Particles (MIPs), heavy ion fragments, etc. - direction and energy of the radiation. You can read more about the development of the technology in UKNFC29.

The ‘TimPix’ project offers students the unique opportunity to access Timepix detector data from the ISS during Tim’s stay. Where possible schools will also have the chance to host a Timepix detector to carry out their own experiments. By taking part in this project schools can directly contribute to research that will improve our understanding of radiation in space.

If your school is interested in participating then please register.

CERN@School is led by the Institute for Research in Schools; the TimPix project is supported by the UK Space Agency via a Principia award.

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Experiment at CERN

Beamline for schools
(© CERN)

Calling all schools! This is your chance to contribute to the global understanding of physics - the 2016 Beamline 4 Schools competition is about to open!

BL4S is an international competition for schools to devise an experiment using a beamline on CERN’s Proton Synchrotron accelerator. It’s an unmissable opportunity – the winners will come to CERN and carry out their experiment, supported by a team of experts.

This is the third year of the competition, so here are some top tips for success from one of the judges:

  • Read the competition instructions very carefully – the judges don’t bend the rules.
     
  • Make sure that you understand the technical specification of the beamline that will be used for the competition – your experiment has to be possible using the beam parameters provided.
  • Research your experiment idea very carefully – has anyone published on this topic before? If they have, what new information is your experiment going to demonstrate?
     
  • How you present your idea matters – do your experimental proposal and video clearly explain the what, the why and the how? The judges want to see your knowledge, enthusiasm and creativity.
     
  • Take advantage of the help that is available – you can speak to the UK’s national contact for the BL4S competition, Peter Watkins or the physics department of your local university – Elizabeth Cunningham, STFC’s Particle Physics Outreach Officer, can help with an introduction.

Lots of useful information is available on the Beamline 4 Schools web site.

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Appreciating assets

Pension

(© Joachim Wendler | Dreamstime.com)

Pensions are important, but we often don’t give much thought to the people who look after our retirement pot until we need it.

Matthew Eyton-Jones is the new CEO of the CERN Pension Fund; he joined CERN in July.

Matthew and his 25-strong international team balance the governance, investment, actuarial, and operational demands of the Fund which has more than 7000 members comprising past and present employees of CERN and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

There’s no such thing as a typical day; when we meet, Matthew is planning for the first audit since he joined. Whilst many people regard audits as a necessary evil, he’s looking forward to it: “Audits are very important for making sure that we’re running the Pension Fund properly. No matter how good you are, the auditors will always make recommendations, and that’s an opportunity for improvement.”

Alongside audit planning, Matthew is also preparing for the next meetings of the Investment Committee and the Governing Board. There’s a strong rhythm to the management of the Pension Fund dictated by six rounds of governance meetings each year, plus CERN’s Finance Committee and Council meetings, and the annual presentations to members.

Matthew is also reviewing the contract for the Pension Fund’s custodian bank, the company that safeguards the Fund’s assets. “I want to be sure that we’re getting the best value for money,” he explains. Changing the custodian would be a huge undertaking - imagine moving your bank account and all your direct debits to another bank, but much, much more complicated. Nevertheless, it’s important to review this essential service.

Matthew joined CERN from the John Lewis Partnership (JLP). At first glance, the two organisations might seem very different but that’s not so, “Both have a very collaborative nature with a strong, positive culture; John Lewis staff believe in their customers and their business in the same way that CERN people believe in science. I like working for companies with a strong culture,” he explains, “they produce better outcomes.” In addition, the two organisations’ pension funds are similar in size and asset profile.

As a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, international travel, politics and the opportunity to explore the richness of other cultures also drew Matthew to CERN, “I’ve never lived abroad so this is a new experience. CERN is a completely international environment and I appreciate the different perspectives of my colleagues, along with their skills and knowledge.

And what about the science? Matthew is gradually getting to know the scientific side of CERN by visiting some of the experiments. And he’s clearly hoping to rekindle a childhood interest in astronomy, “I’m sure that the ESO staff in the Atacama need some 1-2-1 pension advice…”

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International success

Fay Chicken

Going underground: Fay Chicken at work in ATLAS
(Credit: F Chicken)

The CERN Technician Training Experience has notched up another success!

The programme was set up almost three years ago to help address a Europe-wide shortage of highly skilled technicians, with the participants gaining valuable skills and experience in an international environment. It’s clear that the programme works; Technician Fellows who have taken part are being snapped up by major science projects and high-tech industry.

Fay Chicken (see UKNFC 59) has just accepted a job offer from the European Spallation Source in Sweden; she’s going to be working in the detector development team, “I’m also going to be setting up a new workshop where prototype detectors will be built. When I went to Lund, I was shown a big, empty room – it’s up to me to equip it!”

This level of responsibility is a big step up for Fay, but there is no doubt that her time at CERN has both built her confidence to take on the role, and convinced ESS that she can do it.

One of the key requirements of the ESS job description was that candidates should have experience of working in an international environment and, as Fay says, “you can’t get much more international than CERN.” Having spent almost two years in Geneva, she has also demonstrated that she is willing to live and work outside her home country, and that’s an important consideration for any international employer.

“Working at CERN has been an amazing opportunity – I’m leaving with so much experience on my CV and I’ve been very lucky to work with a really nice group of people. I’ve definitely made the most of my time here.”

Fay’s career has clearly benefited from the TTE, and similar opportunities are available to any recently qualified apprentices with a BTEC, HNC, HND or foundation degree. For more information and to apply, take a look online. The next round of applications will open shortly, with a closing date in March.

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