Monday, July 21, 2008

Argonne Scientist to Become ATLAS Physics Coordinator for CERN - Part 2

Please read this entry for Part 1 of this Q&A session with Tom LeCompte

3. Would ATLAS be able to detect signatures of any micro blackholes if such a thing is created?

Tom: If you asked me six months ago, I would have had a more definite answer. A lot of people have been asking the question, "If there are mini black holes, would their signature be sufficiently above the background that they can be detected?" The answer to that question is, for a large range of parameters, "yes". Now people are asking the question, "If there are mini black holes, would we be able to tell that's what they were, as opposed to something else?" That turns out to be a harder problem - especially right after any sort of discovery, because almost by definition you have very few events. (If you have a lot of events, you would have discovered it sooner - back when you had fewer). We have a lot of people working on this now, but I think the conclusion that it takes more data to figure out whether the new physics is a black hole or something else than it does for the initial discovery is probably always going to be the case.

4. Having been at CERN many times, how do you find living situation there when compared to where you are presently?

Tom: Geneva is a wonderful city, but very, very expensive. The weather takes some getting used to: when I was learning French, the first complex thought I was able to express in French was about the weather in Geneva: "Il neige en hiver et il pleut le reste du temps" - which means "It snows in winter and rains the rest of the time."

5. Other than the Chicago deep dish pizza, what will you miss most after your move to CERN?

Tom: Well, this year I am going to miss the cross-town world series!

Ah, ever the eternal optimist, that Tom. That's why we like him!



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