Blechk — this week was too long…

**YAWN**. This was a loooooooooong week. When I was a graduate student it was “no big deal” [1] to have four 8-hour shifts, plus normal meetings and work.

Although I was expecting to sleep-in today, I was a little amazed that I slept until 1 pm. I can’t say I’ve done that for a very long time, probably since college. Despite needing the rest, sleeping that long never leaves me feeling very well. Thus, blechk…

I’ve got a nice restful weekend ahead, however. I have some cleaning to do (mostly done!), and a nice beer-centric social event to attend tomorrow (with physicists), but overall I have low expectations for my weekend!

.. [1] “No big deal” means in the short term – order 1 week. In the long term (several months) that kind of continued behavior led to exhaustion, depression, and hypertension. Blechk.

The stuff shifts are made of

Ah, shifts. I love them. It’s the stuff that brings you as close to the experiment as a casual particle experimentalist gets these days. If I were a systems expert, I have my hands deep in the warm guts of the detector every day. But I am not, and so this is as close as I can get to the experiment on a casual basis.

I’m in the Main Control Center of the accelerator tonight, on a “swing” shift from 4 pm to midnight. It’s the final three hours of the shift right now, and it’s been quite a ride. Since our start-up a few weeks ago, the Positron Electron Project (PEP) folks have gotten us up to very nice luminosities. The measure of a collider is its *luminosity*, the number of collisions per square-centimeter per second. We’re running at about 5×1033 collisions/cm2/s, which is a great place to be given we have only been running a few weeks. The BaBar experiment is taking data, the accelerator is cranking up the luminosity a few notches each day, and life is good.

As I said, it’s been an active shift. Beams up, beams down. Beams in collision, and beams out of collision (making for showers of radiation that the BaBar detector is a bit sensitive to). Detector up, detector down. But all in all, we’ve made remarkable progress for an experiment that wasn’t operating for eight months! I’m very proud of my colleagues in the accelerator division, and I am proud of the BaBar system experts who keep our machine running 24 hours a day.

Ah, the warm comfort of a running physics experiment!

Jupiter on the Back Walk

I decided that, despite my claims in a recent post, I might have an optical instrument in the house with more power than those binoculars. I charged up the Sony handicam and set it up on its tripod. A quick look at Kstars gave the rough coordinates of Jupiter in the sky, and I headed out into the back walk of our cottage.

I setup the handicam on the loose gravel and aimed it up at the *very* bright speck in the night sky that is Jupiter. A few taps on the focus and zoom and I grabbed some video of Jupiter transiting the sky as the earth rotates. I fired up Kino on the ole Linux box and grabbed the DV off the camera, then snapped the still below:

“Fuzzy image of Jupiter taken with a Sony Handicam”:img:wp-content/uploads/jupiter-handicam.jpg

What’s neat is that there is a fuzzy little object just below and to the left of Jupiter, which *might* be a moon. I wish I could confirm that!

Stopping to smell the roses…

It’s a cool, grey, overcast day here in Redwood City. It’s not raining – at least, it’s not supposed to rain. However, the sky is the color of dusty milk and there is a gentle breeze that makes shorts and a tee-shirt a little uncomfortable.

That’s why I was so struck by the contrast in color and spirit from the roses growing on the trellis wall outside our cottage. I grabbed my camera and “captured the sight some of the rose formations”:/home/sekula/photos/roses/. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!