Sushi and Sliding Doors

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Confronting challenges in computing at the 2015 Conference on Computing in High Energy and Nuclear Physics (CHEP)

Joint Meeting of the Division of Nuclear Physics of the American Physical Society and the Physical Society of Japan

April 13, 2015 to April 17, 2015

Okinawa, Japan

Meeting host:

American Physical Society


Robert Mina

SPS Chapter:

A whole yellowfin tuna was carved at the conference banquet. Photo courtesy of Robert Mina.

On the last night of CHEP 2015, the 500 or so conference participants and their guests attended a banquet at one of Okinawa’s beachside resort hotels. On the buffet were diverse local favorites, like a pig roast, soba noodles, and several varieties of sushi. The centerpiece was a humongous yellowfin tuna, which was carved before our eyes into delicious sashimi.

On tap for the evening’s entertainment were a few traditional musical numbers performed with elaborately costumed dancers, a visit from Ms. Okinawa to award the “Best Poster Presentation” prizes, and an emphatic rendition of the sliding-door dance by all present. Even if you’ve never danced it before, I bet you’d pick it up quickly; just step to the left while throwing your arms up on that side of your body, then take a step to the right while swinging your arms across in front of you. Then back to the left, and repeat. I can’t think of a better way to end a physics conference.

we do the best science when we bring our diverse perspectives to bear on our common concerns

CHEP is an international meeting organized once every 18 months to allow physicists to discuss new and developing issues, strategies, and concepts in computing. The most recent session, the 21st, was held at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Okinawa, Japan, in the second week of April. There were talks about dozens of different experiments from all parts of the world, ranging from well-established projects such as Super-Kamiokande in Japan (which looks for neutrinos), to experiments that are still in their planning stages, such as those at the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany. I presented a poster about software that I helped write for the NOνA experiment at Fermilab, while on either side of me were scientists from the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, one British and one American.

The conference mascots were these adorable cartoon characters wearing lion head hats. Photo courtesy of Robert Mina. Two things stood out as I listened to the presentations and viewed the posters. First, the community of particle physics is diverse in background, with people from all over the world participating in these experiments. Second, and more importantly, it is fairly homogenous in the challenges it faces and in how it approaches them. I think the message of a conference like CHEP is that we do the best science when we bring our diverse perspectives to bear on our common concerns. After all, elementary particles don’t act any differently in one country than they do in another.

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