UK News from CERN Issue 68

 

Issue 68 contents

Balancing act

Read article

A UK researcher has taken on one of the trickiest jobs in physics.

Boosting the return

Read article

The stats are nowhere near where they could (and should) be, and there’s a lot that the UK community at CERN can do to help.

The end of physics ?

Read article

Will we ever be able to unravel the mysteries of Nature?.

New Director-General

Read article

January 2016 sees the start of Professor Fabiola Gianotti’s five-year term as Director-General of CERN.

Got what it takes ?

Read article

Wanted: enthusiastic researchers to take part in the next round of X-factor style competition!


 

Balancing Act

Jamie Boyd
(Credit: STFC)

A UK researcher has taken on one of the trickiest jobs in physics.  

As LHC Programme Coordinator, Jamie Boyd (CERN) is responsible for preparing the experimental schedule for the LHC, and that means balancing the requirements of the different LHC experiments with those of the accelerator physicists for whom the LHC machine is an experiment in its own right. 

Jamie has just taken on the two-year role.  “The LHC Programme Coordinator is the interface between the experiments and the LHC,” he explains.  “The experiments all want to maximise the amount of data that they can collect, but their needs can be quite different.”

Although Jamie started the role officially on 1 January, the process of developing the 2016 LHC programme began in late 2015.  “I asked all the experiments to submit their requests, and for about 80% of the available machine time, they’re all in agreement.  The potential problem areas are the special runs.”

UKNFC 66 featured the recent heavy ion run, just one example of the LHC beams being optimised to meet a particular experimental requirement. Although most media attention is focused on the four large LHC experiments (ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb), there are also three smaller experiments (LHCf, MOEDAL  and TOTEM), which require special low luminosity running for their physics programme.  As Jamie acknowledges, “CERN can’t approve an experiment, let people work on it for years, and then not give them any beam time; the special runs are an important part of the annual schedule.”

Jamie is in the process of having individual meetings with each experiment to discuss its requests for special runs, “I need to know what they want, what they can live with, and what they can’t.” One of his most frequent questions is “what can you do with less beamtime?” 

Jamie has been a member of the ATLAS collaboration for 10 years and knows the experiment inside out having been both the Supersymmetry Convenor and Data Preparation Coordinator (see UKNFC 64 to find out more about this role).  This means that he already has a good understanding of what ATLAS wants, and where schedule compromises could be achieved, but he needs to rely on expert help from his extensive network of contacts in the other experiment collaborations and the LHC operations team to get a clear understanding of which of their requests are essential, and which are ‘nice to have’.

Once Jamie has prepared a plan for 2016 operations aimed at optimizing the scientific output of the LHC, this will be submitted to the LHC Committee.  After approval, the plan has to be signed off by the CERN Research Board.

Whilst the plan sets out the intentions for the year’s operations, if the machine or experiments experience a technical problem, this can throw the schedule completely and, working with Eckhard Elsen, Director of Research and Computing, Jamie will have to act quickly to revise the plan in a way that ensures the experiments will still get a fair share of the beamtime that they need to deliver their experimental objectives. 

One of the aspects of the job that Jamie is most looking forward to is the opportunity to learn more about the LHC machine, “Just before Christmas, I went to the LHC meeting at Evian, France; I learnt a whole new set of accelerator physics acronyms, met lots of new people and gained an increased appreciation of the complexity of the machine.”

That knowledge will be extremely useful when Jamie returns to the ATLAS collaboration in 2018, “There are certain parts of ATLAS where having a good understanding of accelerator physics will be a big advantage, for example related to precisely measuring the luminosity, or mitigating beam related backgrounds.  What I like about particle physics is that there are many different and interesting roles, and lots of opportunities to learn new things.”

Contents


 

Boosting the return

Exporting is great

Upping the UK’s industrial return from CERN is a priority for 2016; the stats are nowhere near where they could (and should) be, and there’s a lot that the UK community at CERN can do to help.

It’s such an important goal that it’s part of UKTI’s Exporting is GREAT campaign; each contract won by a UK company benefits the UK economy, and in turn helps ensure continued UK participation in CERN. 

You can help by taking part in the next ‘UK@CERN’ industry event on 23-24 February.  It’s organised by UKTI and STFC, and more than 20 UK companies will be coming to CERN to have focussed one to one meetings with staff who are likely to be placing contracts over the next 12 – 18 months.  If you, or any of your colleagues are thinking about placing contracts for everything from precision engineering and specialist coatings to high speed/3d imaging and complex electronics, UK@CERN offers an excellent opportunity to meet specialist suppliers.

To get involved in UK@CERN, or for more information, please contact Eleanor Baha at the UK Mission in Geneva, or STFC’s industry liaison team of Julie Bellingham (based in the UK) or Alan Silverman (based at CERN).

Of course, you don’t have to wait for UK@CERN to start buying British; UK News from CERN has prepared a helpful ‘how to’ guide to help you navigate the procurement system and give UK companies the best chance of winning contracts.

Working together, we can make a big difference to the UK’s industrial return from CERN.  Let’s get started!

Contents


 

The end of physics

Have we reached the end of physics?
(Credit: Harry Cliff/TED)

Will we ever be able to unravel the mysteries of Nature?

Harry Cliff (LHCb and the Science Museum) pondered the future of physics at TEDxGeneva.

Contents


 

New Director-General

Professor Fabiola Gianotti
(Credit: CERN)

January 2016 sees the start of Professor Fabiola Gianotti’s five-year term as Director-General of CERN. 

As with many international science organisations, the Director-General’s mandate is for a fixed term, and there are also a number of other senior management changes.

“Over the next five years, we have challenges to face. We need to ensure excellent performance of the LHC accelerator, detectors and computing, in order to deliver exciting science at the energy frontier,” says the new Director-General. “We need to maintain a diverse and compelling scientific programme. And we need to start building the long-term future of our field.”

Previously spokesperson for the ATLAS collaboration, where she memorably announced the discovery of the Higgs boson in a presentation which further captured public imagination thanks to her choice of the comic sans font, Professor Gianotti is the recipient of numerous international awards and prizes, and is an Honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh.

Paul Collier continues as Head of CERN’s Beams Department, and the most senior Brit in the management structure.

Contents


 

Got what it takes ?

Wanted: enthusiastic researchers to take part in the next round of X-factor style competition!

‘I’m a scientist, get me out of here!’ is back, and we’re looking for members of the CERN community to take part.  The competition is an X Factor style knockout where you’ll be up against other researchers to answer brain bending science questions from young people in schools up and down the UK.

The competition has been going for a few years and is proving to be an incredibly popular (and effective) way of engaging young people with science and engineering, and you can do it all from the comfort of your own desk whether you’re based at CERN, or in the UK. 

It’s worth pointing out that CERN researchers have a very good track record in the competition, including several winners, and you can read about some of their experiences in UKNFC 41)

More information about the competition is available online. If you’re working for CERN or part of the CERN user community, you’re eligible to take part in the Gravity and Iridium zones.  Members of the Institute of Physics and/or the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine can take part in the Medical Physics zone.

The closing date for applications is 24 January 2016 and the competition will take place in March.

Contents

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000