Mittwoch, 10. Dezember 2014

A random Sunday

Many things happen but because of that there is not enough time to write about it. A big road trip happened on Thanksgiving, but this will be reported in a future post. This time I just want to write what can happen on any random Sunday in the Bay Area.

Starting early in the morning we went to Oakland Zoo. Hungry from watching apes, lions, elephants and other animals we ended up on the Golden Gate Fields where there was 1$ Sunday, i.e. admission, food and drinks each only one dollar. You need to change money to special wooden 1$ coins to buy the food and drinks. After watching some horse races, we drove up to the Lawrence Hall of Science to watch the sunset.

And here some impressions:

Donnerstag, 4. September 2014

Cars of Berkeley

The summer is coming to an end and finally I have time again to write something here. There are just to many things to do and by doing as much as possible i missed documenting them. This goes from surfing, visiting Chicago, running half and full marathons and do more surfing.

The center from where I'm exploring California is Berkeley. It is a nice little city with many great places to eat and drink.
Because there is no real winter, it also happens that the cars can get quite old. By just strolling through the city you can find at many corners quite unique vehicles. Some of the more extraordinary examples I'd like to share with you:

In Berkeley you can find...

... German Cars ...

... American Cars ...

... rusty(c) cars ...

... tiny Italian cars ...

... old cars ...

... electric cars ...

... French cars ...

... and bird friendly cars.

By the way, one of the better destinations where you can drive with those cars, is Big Sur. Best reachable on driving down on Highway 1.

Samstag, 19. Juli 2014

Something else

Well I wrote somewhere, that I try to describe what I do beside working on my master thesis. So far that wasn't really a problem, but as you might guess from this introduction, it wasn't the case for the last couple weeks. So now you don't get around some electronics and physics.
Maybe I should start about what my work is actually: I'm working on this. The ATLAS has been running together with the other experiments at CERN. An upgrade is in development and if everything works out it might be installed in around 8 to 10 years and my work helps in one alternative part of the trigger system. The trigger is used to decide, which events have to be stored or which can be discarded. More precisely I've been developing a logic, dedicated to detect correlations of high momentum particles in a very fast way. The long version can be found here.
In order to test all the setup it was possible to get a slot of test beam at SLAC. The date was fixed 1. to 15. of July and so we had to finish the doublet. It is a silicon strip sensor and has a ASIC chip to read the signals from the strips. The very thigh schedule, where all the steps were planned and which meant to glue things at 8pm or later, actually worked out and the doublet was running on the 4th of July. So we started the long weekend in the Lab. One upside, you have a nice view over the whole bay and we could watch fireworks from all over the place.
After testing more as good as we could, we moved the whole setup on the 5th to SLAC and installed it in end station A.
After installing everything we made our self at home in the counting room above the ESA. There were like 6 flights of stairs to go up. I don't know how many instruments and electronic cards were in this room, but it was a lot. Most of them were switched off, but still many were running, without anybody checking them. It wasn't really clear if they all these instruments were actually remotely controlled, or just running and nobody dared to switch them off. It might be that they still have a purpose nobody knows about.
On the first day, we didn't really see anything. The setup was installed and working, just no real results yet. Coming back on Sunday, we let the beam run again and this time we saw something with both of our experiments. After fiddling around with the configurations of my setup, I got correlations and they were plotted on real time on the data acquisition system I developed during the past few months. It's not a very sophisticated system and there I made several improvements during the beam time, but it worked and everybody was quite thrilled to see the correlations show up the screen.

It took still some time to completely understand the data read back and get a good feeling for the whole setup. We had also to adjust the mechanical part of the doublet, but at the end it worked and in a final night session we got all the measurements we wanted to do. It meant to go down to ESA every 20 min for between something like 1am to 5am. And each time you have to call main control to get access to the end station. At the beginning it was like: (me, MCC) "Hi MCC, this is Niklaus. We're two people to get in to ESA." "Ok. What are the names?" "It's me, Niklaus and Amar." "Ok, here are you're keys." "Thanks, got them." "And here is the door." "Thanks, bye" And the same to get out.
At the end of the night is was more like: ""The two of you want to get in?" "Yes" "Keys ... and door." "Thanks, bye"
Was a fun night :-)
And now I let you wonder at some preliminary results:

So that's what I do here besides chilling around, surfing or exploring California. Last but not least, even at work the group picture can't be missing:

Dienstag, 24. Juni 2014

Hiking around waterfalls and lakes

California presents many opportunities what you can do on a weekend. One of the most famous ones is probably Yosemite.

Filling two cars with international folks, we organized a couple of tents and tried to leave not to late Friday evening last week. With a planned departure time of 3pm, we should have enough time to go there, but there was also a meeting scheduled from 2 to 3. It worked out well and the first few minutes of the meeting were used to discuss what to do and what not to do in Yosemite.

Somehow we managed to get started and being in the first car, we had the task to claim the campsite and build our tents, with the following result:
After setting up the tents, we waited for the second car with the food and rest of the luggage to arrive, which gave us the possibility to gaze at the stars.
Everybody arrived and after a quick planning for the next day we went to sleep on more or less comfortable ground.

Because not everybody was sure about how long a hike they could do, we chose a route, where it was possible to split up. The plan was to hike on John Muir trail up to Nevada falls and then around the back of the valley to Glacier point.
It was a very beautiful hike up to the waterfall. We had been warned by a colleague from the lab, that the valley will be crowded and you have to stand in line to get up the stairs next to the waterfalls. It was not quite as bad as he described it, but still lots of people were climbing up the stairs. Yet the landscape and everything was worth it.
Even though there were waring signs regarding bears everywhere, we didn't see that many wild animals. There were lots of squirrels, many blue jays and other birds, insects and things. I have to admit, that I was amazed by the nature and didn't really look for animals. The forests, the cliffs, rocks and waterfalls were amazing enough.
Going downhill the four mile trail we concluded the first day after a nine hour hike and more than 27 kilometers.
A well earned BBQ back at the camping, with the obligatory bonfire, we got a good nights rest and all slept better than the first night.

The next morning, our most experienced hiker found another little hike in the meadows. It would lead to a lake high in the mountains and was a 12km round trip.
The landscape was different than the day before, but as beautiful and amazing.
We even found snow on the way. And somebody was stupid enough to carry the swimming suit all the way and jump into the lake.
Before driving back to Berkeley, we stopped at another lake to take a little swim.
Taking back many good memories, Yosemite is definitely an amazing place, where I don't mind at all going back. And naturally the group picture can't be missing.