30 August 2010

Softball Update

We (the Boomers) were eliminated from the playoffs on Aug. 12 with our second loss. Our opponents in that second loss, the Big Bangers, went on to loose the championship game to the Lighting Rods.

Though the season is officially over, we still hope to have a few informal games while the weather allows.

I had fun this season, learned a lot about how to gracefully handle loss and keep my own performance in proper perspective. I am able to share in one of Kelly's favorite passtimes, and I also am better at playing softball than I ever have been :)

Heads Up Friends in Columbus: Travel Plans for the rest of 2010

  • Sept. 3 - 6: We plan to be in Columbus, OH for the wedding of our friends Jesse and Mollie.
  • Sept. 30 - Oct. 4: We plan to fly to International Falls, MN for a NOvA Collaboration Meeting.
  • Thanksgiving: We plan to visit my family in Wisconsin.
  • Christmas/New Year's: We plan to visit Kelly's family and our friends in various cities in Pennsylvania, including Clarion and Pittsburgh.

10 August 2010

Softball Playoffs

Our Fermilab Softball League Team (the Boomers) start in the league playoffs tomorrow (Aug. 11) if weather permits. We go in as the fourth seed with a 3-8 record.

05 August 2010

Who wants to show off their engineering or problem solving skills?

If you look at this picture carefully, you will notice something odd. Specifically, the antenna cable is plugged into the wall rather than a TV. This is because our TV is in our living room on the first floor, but the best reception is obtained with the antenna on the second floor. Since previous occupants of our house had cable and satellite TV, we were able to use coaxial cable they left here to connect the antenna to the cable jack as seen above, run a cable from that jack to another one downstairs, and finally, run a cable from that jack to our TV. It's amazing what one will do to get good TV without paying for cable!

The problem alluded to in the title is that this antenna (a Terk HDTVa) receives almost all of the broadcast channels from Chicago that we want to see. One channel is missing.

MISSING: Channel 2
Call Letters: WBBM
Network: CBS
Frequency: VHF Ch. 12 (204 - 210 MHz)
Broadcast Power: 8 kW
Distance: 34.2 mi
URL: http://cbs2chicago.com/
Why Wanted: Steelers Games and The Big Bang Theory

For various reasons, we would rather not try to put an antenna on our roof.

So, if anyone wants to demonstrate their technical prowess and give ideas for receiving WBBM, please do so.

Thank you in advance.

ICHEP 2010 Summary

Given the size of ICHEP, my experience is only a small sample.

Overall, I got the impression that neutrino physics is an extremely active field with a large number of experiments either collecting data or being constructed. The only real disappointment at the conference with neutrinos was that NOvA did not get a talk and that not many abstracts from MINOS were accepted.

I also was personally glad to see that my thesis work on B→ τ ν was mentioned several times and is a source of tension with the Standard Model. See slides 21-23 of the plenary Rare B Decay talk and slide 31 of the plenary CKM review talk.

As expected, the LHC experiments showed their first results. They are rediscovering the SM quite quickly. I was surprised at how many analyses had results ready for the conference.

The only other disappointment came in the form of the Conference “Dinner.” The quotation marks are very deliberate. The reality is described in part on an ICHEP 2010 blog entry. It was not a dinner; it was a cocktails and appetizers with too many people, too little food, and too little space. It was, in the words of one of our colleagues, an “unmitigated disaster.” To the organizers’ credit, they did give 50% refunds of the accompanying person fee.

The coffee break food and beverages were quite good with large fruit baskets being part of most of the coffee breaks.

The conference had two big surprises. The biggest surprise for most people was that “opening” talk given on Monday by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France! I thought his speech was very good, even though he made one historical error (Galileo did not go to prison). He talked much about the need to defend and promote science to the general public. He also announced a large proposed funding project for Saclay. The speech was interpreted into English in real time via headsets; that led to some interesting artifacts like people laughing at two different times to the same joke and the English interpreter consistently referring to members of our field as “physicians” rather than physicists.

The biggest surprise for me was winning the First Prize Poster award. Thank you for your help, and I thank God for giving me the opportunity and ability to do so. My poster is available online as a PDF.

This entry is intended a summary of the conference in Paris. Details about the rest of our trip will come when we have finished sorting through the hundreds of pictures we took!