The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula


I’ve been running pretty silent again lately. It’s not like interesting things have stopped happening in the world. About a third of the Republican presidential candidates still don’t believe in evolution, the basis of progress in the entire modern medical and social fabrics of our world (good luck on real health care reform with those guys); the energy bill, which funds much of the U.S. basic science program, is facing some possibly serious opposition in the Congress; it’s hot as hell in California and I don’t even want to think about the implications for water rationing this summer. What’s stopped me dead of late is just plain old-fashioned exhaustion. After a long day struggling with research, and after a week of the Babar collaboration meeting, the last thing I want to do is go home and write about it.

I should know better. The whole point of writing, much like dreaming, is to make sense of things that happen each day and to file them in some order that helps take the chaos out of life. So let’s get some words down here and start to undo the blogging doldrums I seem to have entered.

As I’ve said many times before, summer is one of the two terrible times of year for physics. We’re all now in the thick of preparation of our various projects for presentation at the big summer conferences. The European Physical Society conference is imminent, followed by a big supersymmetry conference and the the super-killer conference for my field: Lepton-Photon 2007 in Korea. Add to this the summer flux of people – professors and students – fresh from their semesters and ready for two months of hard work at SLAC. A lot of people have been moving into new office in my building as BaBar’s share of building space gets consolidated yet again. But the disruptions are over, people are making tons of espresso in the kitchens, and we’re all settling in front of our monitors for long days cursing out ROOT and cruising the arxiv for some new theoretical distraction.

The best part of summer is the students. Students are the life-blood of any experiment. Their enthusiasm, their frustration, their ideas and their failures are what make being a scientist so much fun. As they struggle to learn the craft, they bring a mix of fun and devotion to the day that cannot be equalled. It’s the learning process in real time, and I get to be part of it. That really can’t be matched by too many other experiences in life, I bet.

Here’s to summer . . . every last exhausting moment of it.