Hi there! I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch over the last few weeks, but this summer has been really crazy for me! After the dissertation of my master thesis, I had just one day to pack everything, all my emotions, my memories, fears, hopes and dreams and go for this new amazing Ph.D. experience! It was the first day of June and from that moment on, I got around so much that my mother, as a travel agency owner, should be proud of her daughter :)!
Just to give you an idea: during the last three months I have moved to 10 different accommodations, worked at 7 different desks, taken 5 flights and 4 trains, attended more than 10 working lunches and dinners, shaken about two hundreds hands and met even more people! So I hope you can forgive me that I’ve been neglecting my duties as a blogger, but I promise I will improve, I just needed to get used to this new lifestyle!
Now, let me tell you where this adventure has gotten me.
CERN (part 1)
First of all I went to CERN to start my training with the ATLAS experiment. After the first few days filled with annoying paperwork issues, I met the relevant people of the Flavour Tagging ATLAS group to discuss some hypothetical qualification task to work on. Indeed, the policy of authorship of ATLAS is based on the principle that an ATLAS author should have made significant contribution to the experiment. To qualify as an author a person must have been an ATLAS member for at least one year and have spent a significant (specified) amount of their available research time doing ATLAS technical work.
Since an aspiring author has to work hard for the collaboration, it is more advisable to work on a project strictly connected to their research analysis, in order to optimize both time and work. In my case, since I’m going to work on Higgs decays to bottom quark pairs for my Ph.D., I would like to be involved in a qualification project strictly connected to b-jets. But not always the experiment requirements match your needs, and finally they proposed me some tasks regarding light flavor jet calibration, very interesting but quite off-topic! I have started to look at some papers and to prepare myself to work on this new task.
In this period I also attended a Machine Learning workshop (https://indico.cern.ch/event/525023/overview ). Even if the course was not so basic (it was my very first approach to this field), it has shown to be useful to introduce myself to this promising discipline.
Machine Learning is a subject of main interest for me and people involved in the AMVA4NP network, since the aim of the project is developing advanced statistical learning tools for applications to particle physics problems. So, at the end of June, I also attended the Machine Learning School in Lund (Sweden) that you already heard about from Giles and Pablo. I really appreciated the school and began to understand the potentiality of that discipline! But you already know what happened in Lund, so let’s move on!
Then I moved to Oxford for one month. I told you something about Oxford in my previous post. I will spend more words about living in that city in the future, when I will settle down and I will become more familiar with it (this time I felt just like a visitor)! However, the time spent in Oxford has been really enjoyable, especially because of Giles’ and Alessia’s secondments. We worked really well together, producing the Monte Carlo samples for the process pp→ hh→ 4b and for the main QCD backgrounds related to the process of interest. These samples represent a good starting point for our next studies.
CERN (part 2)
When I was in Oxford a new possible qualification task connected with b-jet physics was proposed by the Jet Energy Scale (JES) and Jet Energy Resolution (JER) group. It consists in exploring the jet energy resolution for b-jets. Currently, the jet resolution provider in ATLAS doesn’t take into account flavor differences, but the resolution of b-jets could be quite different because of semileptonic decays. I accepted the proposal and I travelled again to CERN in order to meet and work with the relevant experts of the JES/JER group. So, I spent another two weeks at CERN.
This second time at CERN left me a better impression than the previous one. I have to say that the first time I still had the green of Fermilab’s prairies in my eyes (do you remember my first post?) and the comparison with the impersonal buildings at CERN was natural.
Instead, after some time, I began to feel a melancholic atmosphere along the vintage corridors inside the buildings. It reminds me of the time when I was a child and sometimes, on Saturday morning, my sister and I went to visit my father in his office with its long corridor with carpeting on the floor. It seems that something magnificent is about to happen!
And, of course, the number of people that you can meet in the main area in front of the restaurant (R1) is innumerable! This is one of the best aspects of this place, the CERN community itself!
Besides work, I also participated in the guided tour of CERN. This kind of tours, organized by CERN, is addressed to a general public (not physicists) and I found it quite boring! I would be of this opinion even if I was not a physicist! I mean, the information was interesting and well explained, but I think that a CERN tour should be spectacular and astonishing, like the CERN itself! Just the final step of the tour was really amazing. CERN’s first accelerator, a 600 MeV synchrocyclotron built in 1957, in the flesh! It is shown with a wonderful game of lights that make it look as if it was alive!
If you happen to stop by CERN and you want to see it, you can book your guided tour at this link, but consider that, due to limited capacity and high demand, you have few chances to reserve your tour (they open reservation just for one day, 15 days before). Good luck!
ROME and PISA
At that point I deserved some vacation, so I spent a couple of weeks in a beautiful country, where the sun is shining and the food is fantastic! Obviously, I’m talking about Italy, but I’ll tell you more details in my next post!
Actually, I’m still in Italy, even if the holiday is over! I arrived in Padova for my secondment a few days ago! I’m waiting for the other AMVA4NP ESRs Giles, Greg and Pablo to start working together.
This is more or less the lifestyle of a young physicist. It’s exiting and very stimulating! But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows! Sometimes you feel alone even among hundreds of people and you can miss significant moments of your family. But, as my sweet Grandma used to say: c’est la vie!