Lately, I’ve been keeping busy with a variety of science-related projects. My “real job” has involved some interesting troubleshooting, I’ve occasionally been helping out with other projects here and there, and my workload as Station Science Leader has been ramping up too.
The problem we’ve been working on with IceCube seems to be some kind of software glitch with ~100 of the computers (out of ~150) we’ve upgraded this summer. Essentially, these particular machines lock up about once every 3 months, per computer. This means that about once per day, one of the ~100 will lock up. We haven’t been getting any useful debug information out of the computers when they lock up, and someone has to head out to ICL every time this happens to get the problem computer going again. It seems like the lockups happen more often around 3am than a more civilised hour, but maybe I’ve got a selective memory? Fortunately, it’s possible to get the detector going again fairly quickly from the main station, working around the problem computer until it can be restarted, but the situation is far from ideal. We’ve tried several things to resolve the problem, and it looks like we’ve just about got it figured out this week!
Other projects have been things like helping troubleshoot problem computers for other experiments, looking at a broken air bearing (that’s what we were doing in the photo), and some grunt work too. The most notable job of the last type was last week, when several of us moved the winter’s supply of booze into the station.
The Station Science Leader, SSL, position is something that probably hasn’t been mentioned on here yet; essentially it’s a title that’s assigned by the National Science Foundation, NSF, to one winterover grantee. As SSL, I’m supposed to represent the ~10 scientists who’re wintering here, put together a monthly “Science Situation Report” for the station, and participate in the “Winter Leadership Team”. So, in the end, I’ve ended up with an unpaid position that involves writing reports and herding cats, but it’ll look good on the résumé.
Last week, I had a good time playing with LaTeX to get the first of my monthly reports put together. Fortunately, I don’t have to do most of the writing for the report – I get submissions, sometimes including photos, from each of the NSF-funded projects on station, do some minor editing, then combine the submissions and write up a brief summary. The January report ended up at 12 pages, including a few photos, and seemed to get a positive reaction so far!