Thursday, October 14, 2010


It's very exciting to hear that the LHC has exceeded the "1032" milestone already. While this is an important step on the way to the luminosity goals for the first two years at the LHC, it's particularly important as a step on the way to...heavy ions (collisions of fully-stripped lead ions) at the LHC.

This is not exactly for technical reasons, per se. Instead, the LHC heavy ion program was scheduled to happen only if the LHC reached 1032 this year. If they didn't then it was always possible that the program would be shortened, or even cancelled (chilling as that seemed). Fortunately this did not happen, so onward we go into November! See you all at CERN.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

90-50-10 (Evolution of a design)

I'm at the "90-50-10" celebration at BNL now, honoring the 90th birthday of Ernest Courant, 50 years of the AGS, and 10 years of RHIC. Quite an impressive lineup, with 5 Nobel Prize winners in the audience and several speaking as well. It's hard to overstate the importance of Courant's work in the 1950's, which allowed the develop of modern accelerators, both fixed target and colliders.

I had an amusing role in helping design the logo for the event, when I proposed a poster idea (OK, this was the second draft..):

which ended up looking like this in the end:

I still like the original idea, but it's flattering that it survived as much as it did. Anyway, I'll report a bit more on the talks later (maybe much later, but I promise!)

RHIC AGS Users Meeting 2010

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hot v. Cool spots in NYC

Very neat: a heat map of NYC, extracted from Flickr geotagging information. Red indicates photos taken by "locals" (people who stick around) and blue indicates "tourists" (people who don't). The yellow ones can't be easily put in ether category (still thinking through this one). But amazing how a simple criterion like that can basically get it right.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just in case anyone forgot...

For an article I'm working on, I thought I'd redo my old illustrations.

1. A gas of hadrons, with mesons (quark and antiquark) and baryons (three quarks or three antiquarks). Each cluster is contained by its own "bag":

2. A quark-gluon plasma, with the same quarks, but with "bags" disappeared and gluons flying around in their place.

All the rest is commentary. Any questions? And yes, I really did try and get the gluons right (sigh).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When gold collides!

Real time event displays from the STAR experiment at RHIC. This is what their raw data looks like, folks. Pretty neat, even 10 years after the early displays that you see everywhere. And I mean everywhere, even shoes...(thanx, Paul!)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

And i was!


I might be wrong, but...

One of my least-well-kept secrets is that I'm mildly obsessed with the old hydrodynamical model invented by Landau and Fermi in the early 50's, which predicts (surprisingly well, IMHO) the total number of particles produced in collisions of nuclei, and even collisions of protons (and angular distributions, and some novel features of the same etc.). The physics is simple (pack all the energy into a tiny volume and let it explode along the beampipe) but the justification is downright bizarre (that all of these microscopic systems form a droplet of fluid as soon as they overlap each other). Of course, RHIC has told us that nuclei seem to form a fluid, and pretty damn quickly -- I'm still looking for a good reason why protons couldn't in principle do the same thing. Of course, making a snappy prediction would help my case.

So the points are nucleus-nucleus data (top trend) and proton-proton data (bottom-trend), and I've tried my hand at extrapolating with a few favorite functions. Unfortunately for me, but congratulations to CMS, the top one (my favorite) is pretty clearly ruled out by the low multiplicity measured by CMS today (4.5 instead of 5.5).

Of course, there are two more experiments to go, and a few more energies to be filled in in the next few years. A man can still dream -- especially since the CMS paper measures the number of particles at 90 degrees relative to the colliding beams, which is *not* the same thing as the total number. Of course, the calculations nominally allow one to predict things at 90 degrees but lots of things can get in the way. No-one said this would be easy!