This past week was what is usually called “BaBar Collaboration Week”. This is a week of morning to night meetings of the entire collaboration. This typically involves something like 1/3 – 1/2 of the collaboration all showing up at the same location (SLAC) and presenting their progress in research. The collaboration meeting is a mixture of two kinds of meetings (or “sessions”, as we call them): plenary and parallel. The plenary sessions are attended by all members of the collaboration, while the parallel sessions are topical and atttended by interested parties.
Collaboration meetings are growing more and more draining as I get older. This has less to do with age and more to do with involvement. As a convener of a BaBar analysis working group (AWG), I organize parallel sessions that center on the topic of my AWG: leptonic decays of the bottom or charm quark/mesons. I also have grown more interested in a wide variety of topics as I’ve spent more time in physics. For instance, I am interested in generic decays and physics of charm mesons; I enjoy the any topics worked on my me and my colleagues in what are called “radiative penguin decays”; and of course, I enjoy leptonics decays of b and c quarks IMMENSELY.
But a physics collaboration is so much more than just the research it produces. It’s also defined by how it does that research. That means equipment and computers. I am always attracted to the discussions of detector hardward developments and analysis computing topics, a huge part of modern particle physics. One of my pet peeves is the sheer number of my colleagues who avoid the computing plenary and parallel sessions as the meetings. For instance, one of the most important sessions dealt with the global distribution of computing resources by BaBar. This affects EVERYONE. However, less than 1/5 of the collaboration attended those meetings. Sad. Do they all think data just comes magically out of the ether and is handed to them polished and primed?
I’ve taken today to recover from the meeting. Like I said, it was draining. I was attending meetings from 8 in the morning to 8 at night for four days straight, with a closeout morning session on the fifth day. My wife just left for Minnesota at 5:30 this morning, leaving me alone on a very rainy Sunday. Not the best way to cap off the draining collaboration week…
I got a **lot** out of this meeting, however. I have three new ideas for developing my research topic: invisible decays of heavy quarkonium. I hope to use these decays to constrain models of physics that claim to tell us how nature operates outside the bounds of the Standard Model of Particle Physics. This could be a very powerful probe of nature.
So that’s BaBar collaboration meeting week. We do this about 4 times a year, with lots of little meetings in between. Whew. Time to regroup and head back into my research!