Monday, October 18, 2010

My Typical Monday at the LIGO Livingston Observatory

The morning starts at 9 am with a meeting that my husband (the engineer) needs to attend to address issues related to the upgrades that will be starting at the end of the week (these upgrades are for the Advanced LIGO detectors which I will write a more detailed post on later).  Since I don't have to be at that meeting (being that I am a data analyst and I don't get to touch the detector nearly as much as I would like) I start replying to emails and preparing for the work that needs to be done after all my meetings are over.

My first meeting is at 10 am and this is an observatory staff meeting.  This is when we talk about the visitors that will be on site this week, any new hires or job postings that are going up and have a general round robin to get an overview of the work that will be going on during the week.  This does not mean this is the only meeting to discuss the various activities that will be going on - this is just an overview so that everyone has a general sense of the work for the week.  During the week, there are more detailed meetings between the staff that work on different projects as well as a meeting everyone doing work must attend to get their work permits reviewed and approved.  (Work permits are descriptions of the work that needs to be done as well as the safety issues that may be involved.  It isn't uncommon for work between groups to conflict and potentially cause safety hazards; work permit meetings help keep that from happening.)  After this round-robin, the meeting is usually dismissed unless there is a pressing presentation that needs to be made.  Today we had a presentation on OSHA work safety regulations since the new work for Advanced LIGO will be more involved than the day-to-day work at the observatory has been for years.  (If you can't tell, we take safety very seriously here at LIGO!)

At 11 am I have a meeting with the Science Education Staff to discuss the school field trip visits, teacher professional development workshops, tours, etc. that we may be having this week.  This meeting was a busy one since there is a Southeast Section of the APS Meeting taking place at LSU at the end of the week and the scientists attending this meeting will be touring the facility (the observatory and the Science Education Center), there is a MIT tour this week and the Teachers' Day I have been organizing is taking place on Saturday at LSU.  All of this is in addition to the school field trips we have scheduled.  So today's meeting focused on making sure all of us knew what we where in charge of and to discuss the help we needed from the other staff members.

Then I am off to my office to start working for the day (unless I decide it is a good time for lunch, then I start working after that).  Today I have been making many phone calls and emails to finalize the details of the Teachers' Day I've been planning.  I communicated with the APS who is supplying me with the physical materials the teachers will use and take back to their classrooms, I ordered the breakfast and lunch items for the teachers, I contacted the organizers of the APS meeting to help me recruit physicists to have lunch and talk with my teachers and to help me find a laser specialist to give an opening talk on lasers (the Teachers' Day is LaserFest themed since 2010 is the 50th anniversary of the laser), I contacted LSU about on-campus parking for the teachers, I contacted the LSU physics department to make sure I have a room for the workshop (and I still need to figure out where lunch is going to happen) and I made a list of all the other stuff that still needs to be done.  <Catching my breath...>  Everything seems to be coming together nicely and I the teachers I've worked with in the past have always been so wonderful that I am sure that bumps in the road won't derail the day.

Science wise, I have been communicating with a physicist who is interested in using the simulations that I produce for the burst gravitational wave search to apply them to the search for gravitational waves from inspiralling neutron star and/or black hole pairs.  We will call each other to talk about this tomorrow afternoon.  Also, I have been communicating with a friend I am working with regarding a project of mine that checks that for the detection delay between gravitational wave detectors (we expect gravitational waves to travel at the speed of light), what the possible range in detection strengths we can measure are for real (physical) gravitational waves.  Our conversation today focused on reapplying this to try to figure out where on the sky the source may have been.  Together, we hope to reapply this work for the inspiral gravitational wave search.

That's been my day so far.  I think I am going to stop by LSU today to check out the room that has been reserved for the workshop so that I know what I am dealing with.

My parting picture for you today is my desk lamp where I collect name tags from meetings I've gone to.  I think I might need to clear the older ones off since my husband says that this is a fire hazard (it isn't but it is starting to get difficult for the light to get out of the lamp and be useful to me):


This is something I look at every day.

Have a great week!

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