CERN | My story
photo from the private archive
BARTOSZ ŁYSAKOWSKI, MSc Eng.
And it happened, I crossed the gates of CERN, and I was delighted and amazed at the same time. As an incorrigible and unreformable idealistic dreamer, I expected almost futuristic SF. My adventure with CERN continues. “May the Adventure and Physics last!”
CERN MY STORY
Since elementary school, I have wanted to explore the world. First, chemistry was my great passion, and then in high school, I switched to history and archaeology. The whole thing changed during the choice of studies. Then, during one of the many fantasy conventions I have participated in, I went to the popular science panel led by both scientists and SF authors. From that moment on, I knew my goal was to become a physicist, moreover, a High Energy Physicist (to quote T. Pratchett, one of the participants of the panel).
From this, after all, pivotal convention, my adventure started, and it began rather quickly. In my freshman year, I met a sophomore student who drew me into a student research group and then into the Department of Nuclear Physics and Its Applications. I followed this path by creating beam detectors for the NA61/SHINE experiment at CERN, which became the subject of my MSc thesis.
With such a thesis topic, it didn’t take long for me to visit CERN, a place I had dreamed about for years. I didn’t even mind the (at the time quite frightening) vision of spending many hours in a car with my thesis supervisor.
And it happened, I crossed the gates of CERN, and I was delighted and amazed at the same time. As an incorrigible and unreformable idealistic dreamer, I expected almost futuristic SF, but I got the most ordinary laboratory campus, but that’s just a facade. There is a unique atmosphere at CERN; I always feel like I am in another world, and giving vent to my idealism, I feel as if this world is mine.
Well, enough of this sentimental excursion. I will not focus on the details of CERN’s life or work; this has been done for me by others in their texts written for this occasion. However, it is appropriate to briefly describe how it went on with me, so I may have lied a bit when writing the beginning of this paragraph.
NA61/SHINE is a medium-sized experiment located in the North Area, on the French side of the border. It comprises specialists and extraordinarily brilliant people, both in “social” and knowledge understanding. As a newcomer to the experiment, I was recieved a warm welcome and they explained to me exactly what goes on and how things work. I must have made a good impression because on my second visit (less than a month later), I got a shift at the experiment without senior supervision.
In addition to the “training”, quotation marks substitute for explaining how spontaneous these events were, there was also the work and detector testing I needed for my engineering thesis. It wasn’t easy. At first, my thesis supervisor and I were crawling around looking for cables on the floor to plug our detector in. Then it didn’t get any easier. I was given an oscilloscope and the task of collecting a spectrum. The problem was that I had had an oscilloscope maybe three times in my hand, and this one was digital, not like the analogue ones from the student’s laboratory. But according to the principle: “What, I can’t do it?!” I managed to configure it, unfortunately not without a bit of help, and thus collect the data I needed for analysis.
During this trip and the next, I still helped with the day-to-day work of the experiment and participated in the data collection shifts. I indeed came back from this trip much wiser and even more passionate about my work.
My adventure with CERN continues. Now, during my PhD, I analyze data from collisions and continue to help with technical work. I still intend to go there and continue my adventure with the facility and research conducted there. I will allow myself to conclude with my own aphorism. “May the Adventure and Physics last!”