Kiwi Particle Physicist

May 28, 2006

All Finished

Just headed back to Osaka tonight after the ILC school. It was a really good experience. Before I went I read through some of the lecture slides on the net, and was a bit worried because I had no idea what they were on about. It was all a bit outside my area of expertise. At the school though, the teachers all did a fantastic job, and the lectures were really well presented. Just reading through the slides probably isn’t the best way to learn.

Overall I picked up a lot more than I thought I would. There were a lot of other students who were also from non-accelerator physics backgrounds, and they all seemed to enjoy the course as well. Hopefully I will get the chance to take part in another of these in a few years time.

May 26, 2006

KEK Tour

Second to last day. We left Hayama this morning and came to KEK by bus. After lunch we went for a tour around KEK to see the Photon Factory, KEKB, Superconducting Test Facility (STF), RF Cavity Fabrication and Test Facility, and the Accelerator Test Facility (ATF). I’ve seen KEKB before, but none of the rest. It’s amazing how many different things they’re studying here that I never new about.

The highlight for me was seeing the ATF. This is a 90m linear accelerator and a 1.5GeV damping ring with a circumference of 138m, which is used for various accelerator studies for the ILC. The linac is shown below.

On Belle we are just trying to take as much data as possible, and as long as the accelerator and detector are working properly we don’t usually think about them too much. We normally only go inside once a year during summer maintenance to fiddle round with things and make improvements. The people working on ATF, however, are focused on studying the machine itself, and have much more opportunity to get hands on and play around with it.

It still gives me warm fuzzies inside whenever I get to see one of these machines up close. They’re such amazing creations. I think its a shame that most of the general public never get the chance to see them. Imagine building something like the accelerator in the photo, but 150 times longer. Then put two of these end-to-end and shoot trillions of electrons into each other. Awesome!

May 25, 2006

Nice Area

Last day here at Hayama, and then we leave tomorrow morning to go to KEK for a couple of days. The weather today was great, so after lunch I went for a wander around the village again. Very nice area. Great views of the sea, and much larger houses compared to the major Japanese cities. I saw a Lambo and a Ferrari as well. I wonder what kind of people are living here?

May 23, 2006


I'm still at the ILC school. Yesterday we only had morning classes, and then after lunch we went into nearby Kamakura to see the sites.

Kamakura was the home of the Minamoto shoguns during the period of the Kamakura shogunate from 1185 to 1333. It was towards the end of this period that the Mongols launched two invasions under Kublai Khan in 1274 and 1281, both of which were largely wiped out by kamikaze (typhoons.) However, the financial strain from supporting the military during this time helped weaken the regime. It was eventually overthrown after Kamakura’s most powerful general, Ashikaga Takauji, sided with the emperor to remove the ruling clan. He then declared himself the first shogun of the new Muromachi shogunate, which was based in Kyoto.

First we went to Kotokuin, to see the statue of the Amida Buddha, and then we headed on to Hachiman-gu, which was built in its present location in 1191. The photos below show prayers written out by people who visited the shrine, including one by Michael from Taiwan, who is studying with me here at the ILC school.

It was a good break from all the study, but we still had homework to do from the morning lectures, so we were all sitting in the lobby studying until after midnight again.

May 21, 2006


First lessons started yesterday. Physics motivation, introduction to the project, and some of the optimization problems. It looks like it’s going to be a fairly intense eight days. We have to get up at 7:00 for breakfast, study, classes, lunch, classes, and then homework in the evening. It took me about six hours last night after dinner, and I still didn’t get it all finished. Hope the course load doesn't get any tougher.

May 19, 2006

ILC School

Just arrived in Hayama for the ILC School. It is an eight daylong meeting to introduce students to the accelerator side of the ILC.

There are about 80 students here in total, probably about three quarters of them from overseas. About half specialize in accelerators, and the rest are a mixture of experimental particle physicists, engineers, theorists etc. For those who are interested, here are links to the ILC School Site and the program with links to the lectures.

Went for a run around the village this afternoon before the welcome party. It’s a resort area where some people have their summer homes. Very nice place, I’ve never seen anything like it in Japan before. The weather today was terrible, so I didn’t take any photos, but I’ll post some soon.

May 13, 2006

Back Again

Caught the train up last night. I have on-call shift here again for the next week. The machine condition is not so good, there have been a few computer problems, and the machine luminosity is quite low. Hopefully the KEKB accelerator people and our data guys can get everything sorted soon.

May 12, 2006


Spent Wednesday through Friday taking an intensive course at Osaka. I have to take two of these to get the credits I need to graduate, so I’ll try to nail them both this year.

The talk was about the discovery potential of the LHC, the new 27km circumference super-collider being assembled at the moment at CERN in France/Switzerland.

It was aimed at master’s course and doctor’s course theorists, so some of it was a bit over my head. It was still a worthwhile lecture to take though. I have the ILC school next week, so much of the physics background will come in handy.

Overall the physics was very interesting. If the Higgs boson exists with the properties predicted by the standard model, then we should have conclusive evidence for it by 2010 at the latest. Will be an exciting next few years.

May 08, 2006


Just took the health exam this morning, which was the first of four I have to take every year to be allowed to play with the accelerator and radiation sources. They’re fairly thorough. Nice to know the government cares enough to check if this stuff isn’t killing us, but I think they might be being a bit over cautious. Anyway, clean bill of health, so I should be good for the next three months.

May 07, 2006

Golden Week

Well, it's been a fairly good Golden Week holiday. My birthday was last Wednesday, which is a problem most years because it is the first day of GW and if I try to go out anywhere the public transport is completely packed. This year Mrs. Physicist and I decided to take it easy, and just made a picnic lunch and headed down to Kyoto Gosho, the old Imperial Palace. The weather was brilliant, and surprisingly there was hardly anybody there. Later on we headed out to a nice restaurant near Kiyomizu Temple for dinner. There were no crowds anywhere, and it was a good day all around.

On Thursday we went out to Kameoka, about 20 minutes West of Kyoto by train, and then went hiking along the Hozu river and up through the mountain ranges. It was only a few of hours, but the scenery was amazing. Again, it was great weather, and other than a group of four on mountain bikes we didn’t see anyone the whole way.

Unfortunately I left the camera at uni so I didn’t get any photos all weekend. Must remember for next time. Good break, but I have to get back to work again this week. I have meetings to prepare for on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, lectures Wednesday through Friday, then up to the lab for another weeklong on-call shift Friday evening. Should be the last time until after summer I hope.

May 06, 2006

They’ve Done It

The government has finally done it. They’ve ordered Telecom to unbundle the local loop, which a lot of the smaller internet companies have been demanding for a couple of years. Hopefully this will mean cheaper broadband in NZ, if not faster. At least with new competition everyone will have a bit of motivation to improve services. We are currently in the bottom third for OECD countries, so there should be plenty of opportunity for improvement.