Lost Tales: My Data Lies Over the Ocean

Author’s Note: I started writing this weeks ago – mid-January – when I was actually on this trip to CERN. Only now have I found the time to polish it up and post it. Welcome to . . . LOST TALES!

Usually when I collaborate with my ATLAS colleagues at SMU, I do it over an EVO or Skype connection. This week, however, I had the pleasure of a trip to CERN to work directly with them and to have meetings with a number of ATLAS collaborators from outside of SMU. It was intentionally a busy week, a week where lack of sleep was a way of life. With the semester starting in just a few days and a sudden change in my own schedule imminent, it was imperative to spend at least a week at CERN


Snow begins to rain down on DFW shortly before my scheduled departure to CERN.

A week at CERN is not really a week. I left on a Sunday – a VERY SNOWY Sunday, I might add – and arrived on a Monday morning. I opted to not sleep on the flight, since over time I have decided that sleeping or not sleeping makes no difference; I feel awful when I land. An old colleague of mine from the BaBar Experiment, who for a few years now has been working on ATLAS, was just two rows up from me on the plane. It was very pleasant to have company as I stepped off the jet and headed to customs.

Sometime during the trip from the airplane to where I met my ride from the airport, I either lost one of my credit cards or it was stolen. A day later, I was forced to cancel it when it was used in Geneva to buy souvenirs and food at a cafe. That said, this was the only unfortunate part of the trip; the time at CERN has been an intense affair. It began the first morning with discussions of projects that might bear fruit for the summer; it moved onto concentrated work to update an internal ATLAS research document with the first draft of some research we’ve been doing since the summer; it then became a series of discussions with my ATLAS colleagues about all kinds of things, from physics efforts to the future of the experiment. Sleep was lost, but physics got done.

Jet lag is not your friend. I repeat: jet lag is NOT your friend. But when you have to change seven timezones to do your work, you learn to live with it. There will be at least a few trips during the semester from Dallas to CERN, because research has to get done and so much can be accomplished face-to-face. In between, I’ll always have Skype.

About Stephen Sekula

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