Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Keeping Particle Physics Laboratories Up and Running

Environmental & Science Education, STEM

Ed Hessler 

It is one thing to be an experimental particle physicist and quite another to keeping the complicated laboratory equipment running. This work is done by accelerator operators which this article about their work are described as "pillars of particle physics." They are responsible for providing beams of high energy particles to all the experiments.

Emily Driehaus, writing for the on-line magazine Symmetry, the on-line magazine about particle physics, notes that particle "Operators don’t learn how to manage "their multiple" responsibilities overnight. They go through a training period that lasts through their first two years on the job." It "involves studying instruction manuals and taking written tests, supplemented by in-person instruction from senior operators." So the learning is both collaborative and "hands-on experience with supervision."

The operators interviewed for the article "say that being an operator is a great gig for those interested in the hands-on elements of particle physics, including those who don't plan to follow the usual path straight through a physics PhD. It is, said one, "the perfect place for non-traditional physics students."

Please read this article for the details of their work is fascinating and is told from the operators point-of-view. There is an illustration, of sorts, at the outset of the path of a particle through the laboratory complex at FermiLab. Below is a photograph of the control room and a video on Fermilab.

Here is a photograph (not current) of the main control room which provides a hint of what keeps the operators busy on a shift.

And in this video (14m 16s), Dr. Don Lincoln provides a primer on Fermilab and how it works.

And here is the Wiki entry on particle or high-energy physics.

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