Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One week at CERN

I can hardly believe I've been here only one week (well, 8 days really). My days have been completely packed with work and paperwork. Plus, the wrench thrown in it all was that the apartment in Meyrin that I had arranged mysteriously fell through. The reason the lady gave me was:

I had to return a favor that I was given some time ago. So is life. Sorry.

So last Friday I started scrambling for a new apartment... these things go fast, so I went to see a couple apartments on Saturday during the day, and then Saturday night I called one of the landlords to tell him I wanted that apartment. We signed the lease and put down the security deposit yesterday. It's been a hectic few days! But I am comforted by the fact that I will have a place to live on October 1st and will no longer have to sleep on my very nice friend's futon (thanks Bryan!). The apartment is really cute too, fully-furnished (which is key for someone without any furniture) with a washing machine and dishwasher, and close to a bus stop in France. Although living in France is a bit quieter and more remote than Switzerland, I did not want spend 6 weeks looking for a non-existent Swiss apartment! It's super difficult to find something on the Swiss side, especially now since it seems like everyone wants to be here for the excitement.

I also got a sim card today... if, hypothetically, one were to unlock an iPhone (after perfectly legally cancelling a contract with AT&T), one should be able to put in a prepaid sim card from a European carrier and it should work... for the curious, I will let you know how this hypothetical situation pans out ;)

And, amidst dealing with foreign bureaucracy and cell phones, I'm actually trying to get some work done! I have spent my working hours battling ATLAS software and python (the programming language, not the snake), but that's kind of dull. So to inject some physics (and since I've been asked by almost everyone I know) I'll leave you with another very nice explanation of why mini black holes won't destroy the earth. The American Institute of Physics puts out a very nice News Update that you can subscribe to. For all of you physics fanboys, the articles are pretty accessible and cover more than just particle physics.

This particular article, called "Mini Black Holes No Danger", is dated September 9th, but it kind of got lost in all of the sensational "first beam" coverage. Here's an excerpt:

When the protons collide with each other inside the machine, one thing that scientists are certain won’t happen is the production of miniature black holes that gobble up nearby matter. A new study shows that the continuing existence of old stars in the sky is evidence that small black holes can’t swallow the Earth...

The article goes on to explain why, in a very clear and pedagogical way.

A bientôt!

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