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- November 2009
DPhil week 4
   November 8th, 2009, 7:41 pm

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So, a few weeks have passed since I started my DPhil. At the moment we are spending most of our time on lecture courses and problem sets. On top of this I am trying to find a little time for my service work project. Basically anyone working on the LHC experiments (or at least the big couple) has to devote some proportion of their time to doing stuff that is useful for the experiment. This can be doing shifts on the detector, writing and validating software for to analyse the data or working on upgrade R&D. I'm working on an upgrade project to look into the radiation hardness of fibre optic cables.

Basically, in around a decade there is a planned luminosity upgrade (basically smashing more protons together per unit time) called SLHC that means that the detectors will be in a higher radiation environment. The inner parts of the detector use fibre optic cables to get the data out, and we need to test them to know that they can survive the planned decade of running at the higher luminosity....

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This week I finally moved to Oxford to start my DPhil (which is a PhD almost everywhere except here). The week was mainly full of admin that needed doing and introductory talks on this, that, and the other. The university itself is made up of both departments (where people take lectures, do research, etc) and colleges (where students often live, take meals, socialise, do sports, etc). So not only did we all have to go through the physics department admin and the particle physics sub department admin, we also had college admin to get through too. In some ways this made it a fairly unexciting week.

On the physics side I am working on the ATLAS experiment, which is one of the two general purpose LHC experiments (the other being CMS, which I was working on the for last year and includes Lincoln amongst its ~2000 members). In order to get onto the experiment's author list we have to do a certain amount of approved service work. At this time it basically means getting some part of the experiment...

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Now that my undergrad degree is all but over (except for a fairly pointless poster day) I've finally got my plans for the summer sorted out. Basically I have three weeks off before moving over to Geneva for two months working on the Compact Muon Solenoid's (CMS) electromagnetic calorimeter. It's not entirely set in stone what I will be doing with it. Possibilities include analysing some test beam data or some newer cosmic ray data. There'll probably be some shifting thrown into the mix too. Whatever I end up doing it'll be fun being back over the summer while all the summer students are there. I'm also hoping some of the friends I made while I was a summer student last year will be back. (Of course I would recommend any physics/engineering/computer science undergrads apply for the summer studentship, it's probably the most fun (and best paid?)...

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The deadline for my masters dissertation is rapidly approaching. I am currently trying to go through my draft in order to tart it up and make it into a thirty page rollercoaster of emotions rather than the dull chronicle of what is meant to be a year's worth of work that it currently is. I wish that had I not been so lazy and actually managed to make a decent measurement before the Easter holiday (or during it) as was planned. I then could have spent more time writing it up until I was happy with it.

Getting it out of the way will be good though. In a mere 11 hours I'll be one step closer to graduating.

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