Blog Profile / Life as a Physicist

Filed Under:Academics / Physics
Posts on Regator:50
Posts / Week:0.1
Archived Since:March 19, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Really? Is it that different?

An article from the New York Times is making its rounds on various social media circles I’m a member of, “What is the Point of a Professor?” It has lots of sucker-punch quotes, like But as this unique chapter of life closes and they reflect on campus events, one primary part of higher education will […]

Pi Day–We should do it more!

Today was Pi day. To join in the festivities, here in Marseille, I took my kid to the Pi-day exhibit at MuCEM, the new fancy museum they built in 2013 here in Marseille. It was packed. The room was on the top floor, and it was packed with people (sorry for the poor quality of […]

Big Time University Presidents

I was going to write about something else this month, but this really got to me. My university, the University of Washington, just lost its president, Michael Young, to Texas A&M. I have issues at many levels with this. First, on the trivial side, I went to the University of Texas at Austin. Big football […]

Your office door open or closed?

You can probably tell a lot about an organization by the doors on the offices. Walking down its hallways, do the occupied offices have their doors open or closed? I have no idea what it means about the workplace! The reason I’m writing about this is because I noticed how many people keep their doors […]

Food And Physics

I’ve been lucky enough to combine two of my favorite things recently: food and talking about physics. And by talking I mean getting outside my comfort zone and talking to non-physicists about what I do. After all, I love what I do. And I’m a bit of a ham… I’ve done two Science Café’s. If […]


I stumbled across an article on reproducibility recently, “Science is in a reproducibility crisis: How do we resolve it?”, with the following quotes which really caught me off guard: Over the past few years, there has been a growing awareness that many experimentally established "facts" don’t seem to hold up to repeated investigation. They made […]

Running a Workshop

I ran the second workshop of my career two weeks ago. There were two big differences and a small one between this one and the first one I ran. First, the first one was an OSG workshop. It had no parallel sessions – this one had 6 running at one point. I had administrative help […]

In Praise of 7”

I have lots of posts I’d like to write, but I have no time. I swear! Unless external events force my hand. In this case, I suppose I should be writing about the apparent crazy conviction of the geologists who failed to predict a deadly earth quake in Italy (really not possible), or science policy [...]

The Higgs. Whaaaa?

Ok. This post is for all my non-physics friends who have been asking me… What just happened? Why is everyone talking about this Higgs thing!? It does what!? Actually, two things. It gives fundamental particles mass.  Not much help, eh? Fundamental particles are, well, fundamental – the most basic things in nature. We are made [...]

We only let students do posters

I’m here at the PLHC conference in Vancouver, Canada (fantastic city, if you’ve not visited). I did a poster for the conference on some work I’ve done on combining the ATLAS b-tagging calibrations (the way their indico site is setup I have no idea how to link to the poster). I was sitting in the [...]

CHEP Trends: Multi-Threading

I find the topic of multi-threading fascinating. Moore’s law means that we now are heading to a multi-core world rather than just faster processors. But we’ve written all of our code as single threaded. So what do we do? Before CHEP I was convinced that we needed an aggressive program to learn multithreaded programming techniques [...]

CHEP Trends: Libraries

I’m attending CHEP – Computers in High Energy Physics – which is being hosted by New York University this year, in New York City. A lot of fun – most of my family is on the east coast so it is cool to hang out with my sister and her family. CHEP has been one [...]

The Way You Look at the World Will Change… Soon

We are coming up on one of those “lucky to be alive to see this” moments. Sometime in the next year we will all know, one way or the other, if the Standard Model Higgs exists. Or it does not exist. How we think fundamental physics will change. I can’t understate the importance of this. And [...]

So long, and thanks for all the protons!

And there were a lot of protons! This is a picture of the Cockroft-Walton at Fermilab’s Tevatron. This is where it all starts. It isn’t that much of an exaggeration to say that my career started here. You are looking through a wire cage at one half of the Cockroft-Walton – the generator creates a [...]

The Square Wheel

Another geek post, I’m afraid. Last week I posted about some general difficulties I was having with doing analysis at the LHC. I actually got a fair amount of response – but all of it was people talking to me here at CERN rather than comments on the blog. So to summarize before moving on… [...]

Reinventing the wheel

Last October (2010) my term came to and end running the ATLAS flavor-tagging group. It was time to get back to being a plot-making member of ATLAS. I don’t know how most people feel when they run a large group like this, but I start to feel separated from actually doing physics. You know a [...]

Source Code In ATLAS

I got asked in a comment what, really, was the size in lines of the source code that ATLAS uses. I have an imperfect answer. About 7 million total. This excludes comments in the code and blank lines in the code. The break down is a bit under 4 million lines of C++ and almost [...]

Can’t It Be Easy?

Friday night. A truly spectacular day in Seattle. I had to take half of it off and was stuck out doors hanging out with Julia. Paula is on a plane to Finland. I’ve got a beer by my slide. A youtube video of a fire in a fireplace.  Hey. I’m up for anything. So, lets [...]

Yes, We may Have Made a Mistake.

No, no. I’m not talking about this. A few months ago I wondered if, short of generating our own reality, ATLAS made a mistake. The discussion was over source control systems: Subversion, Mercurial, and Git are all source code version control systems. When an experiment says we have 10 million lines of code – all [...]

The Ethics and Public Relations Implications of asking for help

I’ve been having a debate with a few friends of mine. I have definite opinions. First, I’ll lay out the questions. The span ethics and also potential PR backlash. These conversations, btw, are all with friends – no one important, so don’t read anything into this! This is long, and my answers are even longer, [...]

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