Some impressions from the ATLAS Overview week in Bern

8 September 2008

Spokesperson Peter Jenni addresses the participants of ATLAS Week during the dinner on July 10th.

This time the outside ATLAS overview week was held in a somewhat unusual venue for a physics meeting. All the plenary sessions were organized inside the VIP area of the famous soccer stadium “Stade de Suisse” in Wankdorf just outside the city center of Bern. I was one of the few participants of the meetings that had previously been in this stadium and moreover I was honored to be the coach of one of the two ATLAS soccer teams composed specially for the meeting. Thus when I was asked to give my impressions from the meeting, I thought I should mostly share my analysis and personal view of the first ATLAS soccer game and I happily accepted. But of course I will also mention other aspects of the meeting.

The LHC is set to start up on September 10th, and we may have the first circulating beam just two days after this issue of the e-news is published. The leading theme of the Bern meeting was obviously to review and discuss the readiness of ATLAS for the start up of LHC. The first day we had sessions covering the closing and final positioning of the detectors, the commissioning of the individual systems and the global commissioning of ATLAS. Later on Tuesday we covered the operation and data taking together with the trigger.  The various aspects of Data Preparation were also extensively covered on Tuesday. Wednesday was mainly devoted to Databases, computing operation and software. All these sessions and still, far from all aspects of preparing for data could be fully covered given the breadth of this effort!

The format for this meeting was somewhat new with the idea of organizing the sessions like a mini-workshop and then extracting the main conclusions and open issues to be presented in a wrap-up session on the last day. My feeling was that this was a step in the right direction and may be one can go even  further along  those lines in order to stimulate even more discussions during those, by definition, very large meetings.

On Thursday morning we discussed our readiness from the point of view of Physics coordination. The session was concentrated on what we can do with early data both in terms of calibration and performance evaluation but also in terms of extraction of physics at an early stage. The evening before, we had a memorable visit to the Paul Klee Centre. Some of us had seen many of his paintings before and for others it was a new experience.  It was in the physics session that we learnt that in the late Klee paintings, one could fine clear signs of early top signatures that we evidently hope to see soon after start up.

May be this is  not so strange as it sounds taking into account  the famous statement of Klee “a line is nothing but a dot going for a walk”. Of course, a physicist often sees what he or she wants. Anyway let us hope that with the first data we will not only see what we want to see but also discover the new thing that nature will offer us. The visit to the Paul Klee Centre was one of the many pleasurable events reserved for us during this meeting, like the welcome reception at the beautiful city hall in the old Town and the visit to the Einstein exhibition.

The Collaboration Board meeting in Bern was special in the sense that we had to elect a new spokesperson for the coming two years. We clearly felt the tension building up during the sessions on Friday morning and the fact that “La Television Suisse Romande” was there to “spy” on us did not help. Everyone knows by now the result of the election and it was covered in the ATLAS e-News of the 14th of July. Knowing all the three candidates quite well I can only regret that only one could win but to operate with three spokespersons is probably not a good idea.

Coming back to the soccer game on Thursday evening. I think it was the first ATLAS sport team event during an overview week. I know that the organizers had some hesitation and worries about the modalities before deciding to organize this match. However it turned out to be a superb success. Kick off in splendid sunshine on the well trimmed lawn of the famous Stade de Suisse and with HansPeter Beck, one of the two main organizers of the Overview week in Bern, as a very professional speaker. The same turf had just a couple of weeks earlier hosted the European Championship and was thus in perfect condition. The two teams presented in front of the numerous public an amazingly thrilling match.

Left: kickoff at the ATLAS Lions v. ATLAS Warriors match

Right: coach Antonio lifted by his victorious Lions

What was surprising, I think, was how the teams found a way to work together in spite of the differences. Both teams were a combination of sexes and ages ranging from young to not so young, and skills from first timers to half professional players but still entertaining soccer was produced and the public really got into the match. There were many players in both teams that would be worth mentioning for different reasons but that would be too long. Still I can not avoid mentioning our technical coordinator. I think he took many of us by surprise both with his rapidity and his ball treatment. Clearly he had been on a soccer field before. As it should be, it was the “home” team, coached by Antonio Ereditato, the head of the Bern group and the other main organizer of the meeting, that finally won the match with  a score 5-3, after a draw of 3-3 in the pause.

I think it is fitting to end my impressions from the Bern meeting with a mention of Einstein. As you all know, Einstein spent some early years in Bern. On Tuesday evening, we visited the Einstein exhibition in the Historical Museum where Klaus Pretzl, the very first ATLAS collaboration chair and now Professor Emeritus in Bern welcomed us with a very personal and captivating introduction to Einstein’s years in Bern. These were happy and productive years for the young Einstein. I think we also had a happy week in Bern. Of course we were not as productive as Einstein in 1905 but we had a good meeting to review the status of our experiment just before the start-up and also identify the urgent actions still remaining. Big thanks to everyone in the organizing committee for an excellent meeting and a pleasant and enjoyable week in Bern.




Per Grafstrom