Monday, August 18, 2008

On vacation this week!

♪ California Love ♫ (that's a reference to the 2Pac song) I'm in California this week on vacation and to see my grad-school friends Ann and Tommer get married next weekend. I went to graduate school at Stanford University, where I spent five lovely years working very hard and being spoiled by the daily 70-degree weather and sunshine. My Ph.D. thesis was on the BaBar experiment at SLAC (the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center). SLAC has a 2-kilometer long accelerator; at the end of it we smashed electrons and anti-electrons (called positrons) together for the BaBar experiment (yes, BaBar like the elephant!). The electrons had an energy of 9 billion electron volts, and the positrons had an energy of 3 billion electron volts. This may seem like a lot of energy, but it's small potatoes compared to the Large Hadron Collider, which is all about colliding protons at 14 trillion electron volts. There's a big difference between smashing point particles like electrons together versus smashing protons together. Protons are a lot messier, since each one has 3 quarks and and even the "glue" holding them together gets involved. The LHC is also a lot bigger -- in my last entry I mentioned that the accelerator physicists injected a proton beam into one section of the LHC. Well, for that small test the beam traveled 3 kilometers -- longer than the entire length of the SLAC accelerator! That's enough physics for the moment... this week I get a reprieve from thinking too hard. The plan today is to go to the beach

A bientôt!

1 comment:

Kendra said...

Hope you're having a great week!