My second week at CERN has already finished! It’s all going very quickly indeed at the moment, mostly speaking French, reading large volumes of specificaitons (which are about 50/50 French/English) and attending more training courses. Highlight (by which I mean the most scary thing) of this week was my trip to the CERN Prevessin site, which is just 5 minutes down the road from my office on the Meyrin site. It is almost exactly 10 years since I passed my driving test and it’s been nearly as long since I drove a manual car regularly – and always on the left hand side of the road! So driving a manual car on my own for the first time in donkeys years, down the right side of the road at what felt like break neck speed (all speeds sound and feel faster when pronounced in kilometers..) was quite exciting. I made it to Prevessin and back without a problem, which was nice.
The reason for going to Prevessin was my Biocell training. As the more geeky of my readers will already know, the LHC magnets are cooled with liquid Helium, which is all well and good so long as it stays in a liquid form inside the magnet. However, if it starts to leak out then it can be rather dangerous, mostly because it’s very cold and squeezes all the Oxygen out of the tunnels very fast. So the protective measures include an oxygen monitoring system (if you hear it go off then leaving the tunnel is a good idea), and personal Oxygen masks which are called Biocells. The training involves learning how to put the mask on in under 40 seconds, should a leak occur whilst you are in the tunnel. I have to say the training was very good indeed, including a ‘stress test’ where they put us all in a blacked out container, filled it with smoke and set off the alarm before we all put on our masks as fast as possible. Hopefully I’ll never need to use mine!
Next week I’ve got my radiation protection training and then I’ll get my dosimeter. This is a little blue swipe card sized device that records exposure to radiation and is mandatory for all areas of radiation risk.
Other exciting things that happened this week included my first project meeting (not that I said anything yet, but probably next week I shall), a retirement do for one of my new colleagues, with delicious cheese, cakes and cold meats, as well as some french red wine, which I unfortunately managed to spill all over my white shirt! I also ran into my friend Gorm (and his wife and son) in the restaurant at lunchtime on Friday, so hopefully I can meet up with them this weekend sometime. Gorm and his wife very kindly put me up in their flat the first time I came for a job interview at CERN back in 2009.
I’m moving in to my flat on Sunday/Monday. In between now and then I need to leave my room in the hostel, collect my bike from the bike shop 6km down the road and even maybe get a hair cut! There was another fantastic sunset over the Jura last night:
Right, now it’s time to get some lunch!