Sunday Star Times: Our bright sparks

Adam Dudding writes in the Sunday Star Times about the involvement of kiwi scientist Dr David Krofcheck in the Large Hadron Collider, and his particular interest in the recent experiments with lead atoms.

Krofcheck is interested not only in the science – which could lead to breakthroughs in medical imaging – but is also proud of the dealmaking which allowed Kiwi scientists full access to all of the data coming out of the detector kiwi grad students helped build, and limited access to the data from the LHC’s other three detectors.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“New Zealand’s contribution to the construction of the 12,000 tonne, $650m CMS detector was small but vital – building sixteen 1cm-thick slabs of electronics-riddled plastic, each a metre long, which are installed at each end of the CMS. Called scintillators, they are part of the “trigger” system which swiftly decides which of the 40 million or so potential collisions that occur each second are sufficiently interesting to bother recording data from, as there isn’t sufficient computer space to record all the data from boring near-misses. Vitally, the Kiwi scintillators can also detect if the beam of fast-moving nuclei has gone drastically off target, triggering a safety switch that will “dump” the entire beam of particles screaming around the tunnel, redirecting it into a room-sized chunk of graphite where it will generate a bit of heat rather than frying the tightly packed tonnes of delicate sensors and electronics in the CMS.”