Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Pop quiz: Life at CERN is (a) more exciting or (b) less exciting than an episode of Gossip Girl. Answer: it depends on the day.

Last September, the answer was (a) on a daily basis. Lately, I would have to answer (b). No data, no news from the LHC, and a bunch of Swiss/French holidays in May have made for a quiet month. But in the calm before the storm we are sometimes (often?) no better than gossiping teenagers...

Spotted, little J. snoring during the LAr meeting.

Is B. leaving ATLAS for CMS?

This just in, N. and S., former collaborators, now collabafoes.

Granted, we are a little less obvious than sending text messages. But instead we use blogs, emails, hypernews, and wikis to do our dirty work. If you don't believe me, check out our rumors website!

Spotted, John Oliver riding the magnet outside R1.

That permanent position at X lab/university? Sorry Lonely Boy, we heard it was offered to Chuck.

Not that I'm advocating a TV show be made about physicists at CERN ... it's not that exciting, and besides there's already one out there.

So, while we lie in wait ready to pounce on the first collisions, snarky side arguments and passive-aggressive turf wars are par for the course. I don't particularly enjoy them, but I figure they are kind of like training for the free-for-all that will come when data arrives and everyone starts their bump-hunting. Don't get me wrong, everyone will be thrilled for a good couple days after first collisions. But with any luck, if things go smoothly we will be scrambling to analyze, analyze, analyze ... because the clock is ticking and the timer goes off when the first papers come out. We will be competing against CMS, but we will also be competing with each other to be in that first batch. Getting your Ph.D., a job, or tenure depends on it.