Monday, December 31, 2012

Highlights in 2012

   After a long pause, I finally decided to resume writing the blog. I had thought of stopping it or even close the domain name and just use the free existing online services such as Facebook or tweeter equivalent, but there are always something deeper in my heart that need to express in a more free way, a place just for them.

   2012 is a history now, there were so many exciting things relevant to me happened. In stead of writing them down immediately, I do it in a "summary" like version here. One may say it's too lazy, while, better than nothing I guess :)

   Chen was born on June 27 (the same day when CMS celebrate the discovery of Higgs particle on LHC) in a hospital in France. I was really worried because of my bad French language, fortunately everything went very well and I had the unique experience to see the whole procedure including to cut the umbilical cord. Some of my friends asked me what it feel like to be a father, to be honest, for him I felt more like a little friend than my son. A special friend who I have to pay attention to all the time.

   There were also several trips including China, Taiwan, Grindelwald, Lyon, Paris and especially South Africa. Some pictures will be posted in the albums later.

Friday, December 16, 2011

First Close Contact with CMS

   Yes! The time finally comes, that I will go to the interaction point (P5) of CMS experiment on December 14, after being a member for four years. The excitement was quickly diminished after knowing there are several requirements in order to get "down" there. In addition to obtain the film badges, helmet etc, there are several safety tests to be taken online and two training courses to take. Will I get the permissions less than two weeks?

   In getting the film badge, they have to associate my biological data with the badge. They did this by using the iris recognition as appeared in some sci-fi movies as the Angels and Demons.  The online tests were not hard, but because there were more than five of them and each one takes more than half hour, it was challenging if one want to pass all of them in a short time.

   For the training course, the purpose is to learn how to use the oxygen masks in case of emergency under the ground. After the introduction and demonstration, I was one of the three volunteers to exercise with the real brand-new mask in the classroom. It was not hard and I did it with no problem. Afterwards, everybody went to the simulated "bunker", where the darkness, gas and siren indeed made one feel nervous. In this semi-real situation, I did put the mask on finally, but still was slower than inside the classroom and forgot a few details such as to straighten the oxygen tube and to tighten the strip around the neck. Hands on experience can only obtained by hand.

   On December 13, one day before going down, I took the final coure of radioactive protection and waited for my access request. Around 10pm in the evening, I was shocked to receive the rejection email for the reason of missing the radioactive course. Immediately I called the person in-charge and realized that the record was not reflected in the database yet.

   In the morning of December 14, I explained to the instructor of the radioactive course that I need to access the area and work this afternoon. The lady was very nice to agree to update the record quickly. Around 12pm, one hour before our departure time, I finally got the confirmation!

   We drove about 20 mintes to get to the P5. Fortunately, the iris scanner recognized me after I tried twice and let me took the elevator 100 meters under the ground. We worked continuously until we finished the measurement around 5:30pm. It was already dark on the ground. Although I didn't have chance to see the detector due to our tighten schedule, I felt fulfilled as being an "insider" and looking forward more excitement in the coming 2012!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Boston Memory

   The earliest memory of Boston -- the name -- come from my middle school English text book, which was a story of Titanic. The lady who was going to Bostong gave her seat on the lifeboat to another person. Later on, from the story of the American history, the name of Boston was again connected with the first gun shot of independence. So, Boston gave me an impression of humanity and a sense of liberty.

   This impression was reinforced after I attended the anual GNU Linux meeting at MIT accompanied by my favoriate mustang. At that time, I was an enthusiastic free software supporter and already read Richard Stallman's famous article before came to US. Frankly, it was still quite shocking to meet the person himself. Due to the limited stay, I didn't have chance to see Harvard.

   My second visit to Boston was at the end of 2008 and stayed at my friends house for the winter holidays. Besides the happiness of playing the Wii game with friends, what's left in my memory was the raining evening from Rode Island airport to Boston, the train to the center of the city and the Harvard campus covered with snow.

   Three years after that, I knew I'm going to leave the US for a while, I visited Boston again with Yunxia. It was great to meet my friends and classmates again, while the feeling was a mixture of gratitude and soft sorrow...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chapel in the board game San Juan

   Recently Yunxia and I played quite a few San Juan - which is a simplified version of the board-game Puerto Rico. Since it is a simplified version, the playing time is much shorter. Because I have used to the minimal randomness in the Puerto Rico, I felt not confortable with the relatively higher randomness in San Juan, especially the card "Chapel". As long as the player build the chapel, he/she will get one victory point in each governor phase, until the end of the game. I complained to Yunxia that this is a "bug" of the game design and should be removed. In one game, as Yunxia build the Chapel in the second round, I tried to go through all of the card by continuously using "Councillor" in order to get another chapel, but with no luck. It was quite frustrating. However, Yunxia seems like the game very much. She said I should have a positive view for the role of the chapel. She convinced me by formulating strategy based on the card in hand and could also win the game.

   Gradually, I accepted this card and realized it is just like the lucky factor in our lives. Life is like a big game, if you always complain those non-lucky factors, you will never concentrate on the positive cards in your hand.

Monday, August 08, 2011

AMS on Space Shuttle Endeavour

   The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) experiment led by Samuel Ting finally flew to space with shuttle Endeavour (CERN Courier). I had chances to meet Ting in person for three times when I was in Beijing, and I was impressed by his style of determination. In fact, one of the major motivation for me to pursue for Particle Physics is from his discovery of J/psi particle. As I had followed the news about the AMS during the past several years, I could understand the meaning of the flight especially for the last shuttle mission in NASA.  As Ting said "... Unless you think that physics is the most important thing in your life, you should not do it. It takes passion, precision, patience."