I am on an approved leave from teaching and university service this semester so that I can focus on research. While I’ve had a number of things going since before the New Year, the last two weeks have been the start of the “traveling” phase of my semester. For me, it’s “Phase 1” – I’ll be in Dallas for much of March while Jodi is away at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Now that this part of my semester has begun, I thought it would be useful to reflect on the last couple of weeks of “HEP Life.”
This was an incredible week, not because of anything that happened specifically to me but because of what happened for all humankind. At SMU, we were visited by Prof. Tony Gherghetta from the University of Minnesota who gave a fantastic seminar at SMU on the subject of composite theories of new physics at the LHC. The physics community was abuzz with rumours about the press conferences and seminars planned by members of the LIGO Science Collaboration on Thursday, Feb. 11. The rumours, this time, proved to be true. The LIGO Science Collaboration announced the discovery of gravitational waves and the birth of a new form of astronomy. Jodi delivered the Clare Boothe Luce lecture at the University of Dallas that same day. The week closed out with a trip to Wisconsin for a nephew birthday party. What a week.
Tornadoes, thunderstorms and heavy rains, floods, and a blizzard. And we’re not even there yet. Some observations on our northbound new year’s travel to see family in Wisconsin, with some photos. This has been a tour of the damage wrought by arctic air combining with the force of the El Nino in the Pacific and the general saturation of air due to global climate change (warm air holds more moisture, a simple fact learned in high school). In two days and five states, we’ve experienced a little menagerie of the wild weather conditions that are made possible by periodic phenomena like El Nino and the long-term lever arm of human-induced climate change.
During this week’s ATLAS Experiment Beyond-the-Standard Model Higgs working group meeting in Israel, our hosts at the Weizmann Institute of Science organized an afternoon and evening trip to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is about 45 minutes from Rehovot, so we boarded a bus around 14:00 and arrived in Jerusalem about an hour later. We were guided through the city – starting at David’s Gate, walking through the Jerusalem Market, then to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the site honored as the location of Golgatha, the “place of skulls,” where Jesus Christ was crucified and then resurrected 3 days later), then up to the rooftops above another market, then down to the Western Wall (the Wailing Wall) of the second temple built by King Herod. Our tour concluded with a second organized tour of the tunnels under the Western Wall, going about half a kilometer from the exposed “Wailing Wall” underneath the Muslim Quarter to the end of the wall, where it meets Mount Moriah, the mythological location where Abraham was to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to demonstrate his faith in God.
Below are some photos from our tour of these parts of Jerusalem.