Monday to Wednesday


Monday rolls around, so I wake up, do the morning thing, and text Evan and Darkhan about a ride in to LHO. No response.

It’s nearly 9, and we have a conference call (Detchar  call) to take, and still no word from either Darkhan or Evan, so I whip out the computer and take the call alone. In the call, they ask for a detector status from each site. Nobody from LHO steps forward, so I take the chance to say something awful like

“Hi, I’m a fellow at LHO now, and I don’t see anyone else’s name on here. I’ve only been at the site for 2 days, so I don’t have anything to add, I’m afraid.”

Bad, right?

Shortly after the call hangs up, I get a message from Darkhan. He had overslept, and so did Evan. Eventually we get in for about 10.30. After being there for about an hour, Dave, the guy who set up my account on the control room computers asks if I have a minute. Mike suggested that I talk to him whilst line hunting, so we chat.

And before I know it, I’m in over my head. He’s talking a mile a minute about different computer racks and what each processor does, and where the data goes. We are looking for something that would introduce a fixed frequency noise source into the data. So by the end of the meeting, I have some logs to look at, some emails to send, and some things to double check.

But when I get back to my desk, there’s more going on.

The LSC (LIGO Scientific collaboration – more or less the group I work with) have sent out a media advisory. That is, they are holding a big press conference in Washington D.C. Here’s the link.


The first observing run for the advanced detectors (aLIGO O1) finished up a few weeks ago. Since then, the collab as a whole has been working on analysing the data. The press conference might be related.

I think the guys at the lab knew this was coming. The feeling had been quite stressed, and frantic on the site. So I decide to throw the announcement all over social media (including here), and keep my head down.

So I do my diligent research, and then, head home. Darkhan is going in to Richland to grab some food, so I join him. He asks if I want anything in particular. “Something American”. After some deliberation, we end up at Denny’s. I get a meat platter to take away, take it home, and wolf it down.




Did I mention that the sunsets here are great? Even if my camera isn’t.



Again this morning, we head in to work after 9. It doesn’t seem a problem though. I just don’t want to make a habit of it. Once I’m in, I know that I have to hunt down Robert today, but I can never seem to find him on a free moment. It turns out that Tuesday is maintenance day, so everyone is running around trying to do the upgrades that they can today. As such, I have very little chance of seeing ro Robert.

So instead, I get on and keep my head down. My emails from the day before have returned, so I have new threads to follow, and so I do. I search the online log books, I find documentation for some software, I  look at this and that, the hours pass by, and still no Robert.

After lunch, at the water cooler, I spot Elli, going out the back door, so I say hi. She invites me along for a walk, and we get to know each other. About where we’re each coming from, what we are doing here at LHO, and what’s next. We walk a few hundred metres along the Y arm. Having told her my worries about working here, she asks “So you’ve not been shown around the LVEA?”

The LVEA is the Laser and Vacuum Equipment Area. It’s the science bit at the corner station. It’s where the laser beam comes from, where the beam splitter is, and also the readout. She asks the controller’s permission to take me in for ten minutes, and the tour commences. We have to put on shoe covers and bouffant caps (hair nets), but we don’t have to get “full bunny suit” (It’s what they call the clean room suit – sort of our version of medical scrubs), and in we go! This time, I remembered to bring my camera.

So after that, my afternoon continues as normal, and I don’t get to see Robert. Instead, I’ll have to wait until the start of next week.

Work work work, then home.

In the evening, I called my uncle. He’s visiting an old friend in hospital in Atlanta right now, but we’re going to try to keep in touch whilst we’re in the same hemisphere!




Today, we all gathered out the front of the LHO site to have a group photo. I couldn’t tell yuo have many people were there. As I’m America-short (Wales-average, but America-short) I was ushered towards the front. I’ll see if I can find the photo.


The site was buzzing about tomorrow’s big press release. Everyone was running around to sort this or that, and the entire place was a ball of nerves. So I kept my ead down, looking forward to what ever came next!.



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