Tuesday, February 21, 2006

ATLAS & Me

These days, it's not a trip to CERN without a tour in the ATLAS pit. My colleague Pavel snapped this photo of me standing on the scaffolding next to a tiny fraction of the ATLAS detector, which is currently under feverish construction in advance of the LHC start-up, still planned for end-2007.

Needless to say, this thing is big. BIG. But what I still find fascinating is that while the muon system is enormous, and the calorimeters are huge, the "inner detector" which tracks particles in a profoundly complicated silicon and straw-tube detector is much more human-sized. My old colleague Heinz took me to their assembly room where they were surveying the recently-assembled "barrel". Much smaller, but a sublime piece of work with the millions of channels we will be using to study nucleus-nucleus collisions at the LHC.

3 comments:

MrProsser said...

I always find pictures of the ATLAS experiment to be very impressive. I am just beginning my graduate studies and will be working on ATLAS, but I have not yet had the chance to visit CERN so without actually seeing it firsthand these kinds of photos are my only way of getting a sense of scale.
It is really quite amazing.

richard said...

Stop me if you've seen this one, but if you go to the LHC page on wikipedia, the last 'external link' at the bottom of the page goes to a really neat quicktime 'virtual reality' (read 'photographs stitched together') panorama of ATLAS. The maker of this panorama even included some background construction sounds for extra authenticity. Of course, it makes me dizzy to look at these warped photos for too long.

Peter Steinberg said...

That is a really neat VR. But I must admit it made me pretty dizzy to be standing inside (and on top[!]) of the thing...