Achintya Rao's blog

Visit CMS and the LHC with virtual reality

Guest post by Tom McCauley, a physicist and software developer working for the CMS Collaboration.

TL;DR: Point your phone's browser to this URL and use Google Cardboard to take a trip to CERN: http://cern.ch/cms-aframe


This month marks my tenth year based at CERN working on CMS and in that time I have seen the actual CMS detector twice: once above-ground as parts of it were being prepared to be lowered into the cavern and once underground in the cavern when it was all assembled. I’ve taken some long shifts when the LHC was first delivering collisions so have seen all I want of the CMS control room. It’s not surprising (in fact it’s probably expected) that a member of CMS has visited the underground cavern and control room. I would consider it very rare to have visited the LHC tunnel itself. Of course, if you are not based at CERN visiting any of these sites is impossible.

It occurred to me that since there are some nice panoramic images of the LHC tunnel, of the CMS cavern and of the CMS control room, why not use them to create a web application and allow one to visit rare places like the LHC tunnel in virtual reality in the browser? Actually the thinking was more the other way around: I want to learn a bit more about how to use virtual-reality tools, so what would be a nice thing to work on?

CMS A-Frame in a browser window (Image credit – Tom McCauley; original photograph – Max Brice/CERN)

On Seagull Soup and Coffee Deficiency: Night Shift at CMS

This is a guest post by Anna Wilson and Eleanor Harris, who spent a week interning with CMS in April 2015.


Night Shift in the CMS Control Room (Photo - Andrés Delannoy)

More than half a year, a school trip to CERN, and a round of 13TeV collisions later, the week-long internship we completed at CMS over Easter is still the most awe-inspiring experience of our lives so far.

Where no-one has gone before

Guest post by Alexander Grohsjean

Born at the end of the ’70s, I was still in school when the heaviest of all quarks was discovered at the Tevatron: the top quark. Back then I had no idea what it was about. But reading an article in the newspaper I felt the excitement surrounding such a discovery. My interest for the smallest and most basic building blocks of the universe had been awakened. When I joined the CMS Collaboration in 2014, I had no doubt that the first measurement I would like to do was that of the production rates of top-quark pairs at the new energy regime of 13 TeV. Shortly after the restart of the LHC in summer this year, we began a journey where no-one has gone before.

A top-quark candidate in the CMS detector. Credit - CMS Collaboration

The short story of Long Shutdown 1

Long Shutdown 1 (LS1) — the two-year period of maintenance, consolidation and upgrades to prepare the LHC and its particle detectors for collisions at an energy of 13 TeV — recently came to an end as the LHC was successfully restarted earlier this year. Although the term “shutdown” seems to imply a quiet period, this interpretation couldn’t be farther from the truth. Below we present in no particular order some highlights from what was a very productive two years at the CMS experimental site, as we take the final steps towards analysis data at the new energy frontier.

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