CERN, science for a better living

Greek scientist and the biggest particle physics lab in the world
IDEAS
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Nektarios Benekos Jan 29. 2016
by Nektarios Benekos
Since I first came to CERN in 1997 while enrolled in Physics at the National Technical University of Athens, I always wanted to be part of the biggest particle physics lab in the world.
 
I was seduced by CERN’s top facilities, excellent seminars and high-level experts, who are at hand for students to have stimulating discussions with. I also liked the excellent atmosphere during the summer school of Cern: I remember that we worked really hard, but we also had great fun. 
 
The Greek scientific community for Particle Physics believes that changing countries for studies or research is a very good exercise for scientists: Living abroad pushes you to learn new things and meet new people constantly, just like in science itself. But on the other hand I have been living abroad for over many years (PhD, post-doc experience and faculty) and I still don’t feel like it is my home and my “home country” feels more and more distant. I have had some fantastic times and have unforgettable memories of living abroad but it is true that being away from home can cause difficulties when you try to adjust to living back at your sweet-home.
 
As Muon Spectrometer (MS) data quality coordinator, I bring together the efforts of the many people who study the data coming off MS, and verify that the calibration system is working. My goal is to maximise the [amount of good] data that we can acquire during the beam. My piece of software played an especially important role on September 10th 2008, as it was one of the indicators of whether ATLAS could see beam or not. I was there at six a.m. in the control room to check it all for the third time … it was a huge pressure on me because I was worried that we would not be able to run it properly or that it would crash. But when the beam arrived in ATLAS, we immediately saw everything turning on, all the histograms filling correctly, the event displays showing the splash events … it was a big, big emotion.
 
I also like to share his knowledge of Physics and the excitement of the projects at CERN. As such, I am keen on participating in outreach activities, like being a certified guide of ATLAS in the Open Day and in other occasions. I strongly believe it is very positive to inform the general public about what we do here at CERN, what we are trying to discover and how our projects aim at understanding the world we live in better.
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