Life’s a beach27th March 2017
You work hard as a student and as a postdoc. You stumble into a great faculty job, where your university supports you, and you get to pick what you work on. As an added sweetener, that place of employment is a short drive from some lovely beaches, has gorgeous weather (the epic floods of 2016 notwithstanding) and is incredibly affordable. Sounds great right? That’s where I’ve found myself, Australia, and it’s really not what I had on my radar five or six years ago when I was frantically hoping to get a position to keep my research adventures in high-energy physics going. But here I am. With all good jobs in high energy physics research there comes a price.
For Australia our price to pay is in distance and time - we are a long way away from most of the “action”. This has its impacts. While the rest of Adelaide was out gallivanting around enjoying the last days of the various festivals happening in South Australia in March, I was in back-to-back approval meetings for analyses I work on (one to be shown at Moriond EW, and another to get to the next hurdle of internal collaborative torture) until 3am on Saturday morning. As a naïve postdoc I thought that this would end at some point. I won’t always have to do this kind of thing will I? Well, if you are involved in physics analyses the answer is: yes, yes you will. The late night Thursday meeting, followed by Friday a.m. lectures and then prep for the late night Friday meetings, starts to makes the more “routine” roles on the collaborations look appealing. Develop a bit of code, test some hardware; be on shift every now and then. But in reality these jobs are the real champions. The problem is that they are rarely rewarded with the permanent positions that the ambitious postdocs and students crave. There’s real merit in showing commitment to the operations and improvements of a collective piece of scientific equipment, and not just using the data to gain something.
As mentioned in a previous post I’ve been involved in a couple of longer-term projects. The Recursive Jigsaw work I talked about in the last blog post, but I’m also a member of the GAMBIT (Global and Modular BSM Inference Tool) Collaboration. We recently submitted six papers to journal in preparation of the public release of the code at gambit.hepforge.org. The global fitting code will allow users to compare their models to data more easily, and members of the group are already looking for ways to use the fast, parallelized design in areas beyond new physics searches.
Recent information has come to light on interactions.org that ssc is alive and well, and producing some exciting discoveries. Of course, I don’t mean the ill-fated Super Conducting Super Collider has found a new lease of life, but that baryons containing two strange quarks and charm quark are big news. The LHCb experiment has done it again with another exciting result. A month after their 7.8 standard deviation observation of B_s particles (comprised of a b quark and s anti-quark, or vice versa) decay to pairs of oppositely charged muons showing good consistency with the Standard Model they pop out no fewer than five new children, all narrow, excited resonances of the neutral Sigma_c baryon. As their lovely plot shows, there’s plenty to seen in flavour physics at the energy frontier.
So with the winter conference season in full swing, it’s a crazy time for analysts scouring the 13TeV collisions of the LHC for further precise Standard Model measurements, or panning for nuggets of evidence of something lying beyond it. I’ve managed to get one result out thus far and have another that I’m leading in the pipeline, and as we keep reminding ourselves, the next discovery could be just around the corner. While we wait for that, I’m hoping to get a chance to hit the beach before daylight savings ends!