The importance of measurements

Having been pretty much bedridden with Covid for most of the week, I am now feeling much better. I still have those two lines on the thingy though, so today have added a cricket match to the list of missed things.

This is my first (known) bout of Covid since the start of the pandemic. Part of me was a little relieved to see the two lines appear on the lateral flow test. There have been a few times over the past years when I have felt rubbish but have come up with negative test results, and I had a nagging doubt I was somehow doing the test wrong.

Well, I wasn’t. Two very clear lines, consistently now for several days. So my comfort is that at least I have not been a bungling superspreader, falsely reassured by crap measurements.

Talking of measurements, he segued smoothly, there are two papers on the arXiv today I’d like to comment on.

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When is a Higgs not a Higgs?

Last Thursday, along with most of the STFC Technology and Accelerators Advisory Board (TAAB) I had a tour of RAL Space and RAL Technology Division. Lots of very cool stuff (and in some cases we are talking milli-Kelvin-and-below cool).

Since I intend to be analysing data from it for the next decade or more, it was satisfying to see a stave of the ATLAS Inner Tracking Detector upgrade, and peer through the window at the clean room where the detector is being assembled. Even though this is “my experiment” in one sense, this is the first time I’d seen this. The stave is an array of silicon detectors delicately bonded to their readout electronics. You can find more information here.

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Babbage @TheEconomist

Along with several colleagues, I was interviewed by my old Guardian Science Blog boss Alok Jha for two episodes of the Economist’s Babbage podcast, about the future of the LHC and beyond. If you subscribe to the Economist you can find it here, and it’s on various other podcast platforms.

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Astrotech and Cake

Last week included a trip to Edinburgh for STFC Council*. I arrived early (I recommend the night train, at least if you are within easy reach of Euston) and walked through Edinburgh in the mist to the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, which is nearly at the top of Blackford Hill to the south of the city centre. I’m not sure why it isn’t at the top of the hill, really. It is at the Royal Observatory, and in my experience astronomers always get themselves as high as possible.

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