by Panos Charitos. Published: 20 July 2013

Earlier this month, on the 6th June, the ALICE Cavern received some special visitors. John Jowett from the Accelerator department at CERN, Mike Blaskiewicz from the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and Krishna Rajagopal from MIT who is currently on his sabbatical leave working in CERN's TH Division, visited the Cavern, guided by Werner Riegler, ALICE Technical Coordinator and Despina Hatzifotiadou, ALICE outreach coordinator.

Werner Riegler explaining the details of the many different ALICE detectors to our special visitors.

They were accompanied by Reine Versteegen, a fellow of the Accelerator group working in the heavy ions team, and Michaela Schaumann, a PhD student also working on heavy-ions accelerator physics, along with a group of young colleagues and students from the Accelerator Physics group.

John Jowett and Michaela Schaumann during the visit.

The visit was originally arranged for Mike Blaskiewicz, one of the key people behind the stochastic cooling system that dramatically improved the heavy-ion luminosity of the RHIC collider. During his two-week visit to CERN, he collaborated with the LHC heavy-ion team on the development of a similar system for the LHC.

Earlier in the morning, Mike Blaskiewicz and John Jowett had visited Point 4 of the LHC, where the RF system is installed, in order to find suitable locations for the hardware. Although a number of technical problems remain, the first results from the LHC heavy-ion beams are very encouraging. In fact, Mike presented them in a seminar at CERN ( the following day.

Moreover, Mike and Michaela presented their papers to an audience of beam-cooling experts at the COOL’13 workshop ( ) the following week. “I am very happy that my younger colleagues finally had the chance to see what they had been working on.” Jowett mentioned after the visit. Having been in ALICE many times before and having witnessed the transformation of the old L3, he really enjoyed the tour.

Reine says: “I really enjoyed the visit to the experiment and I had the chance to see how big and complex the detector is. It was very interesting to see it from the inside for the first time. Werner provided us with detailed explanations about its various parts both on theoretical and practical aspects of the building phase and on the technical modifications during the shutdown”. She adds: “Finally being able to recognize the elements that are included in our calculations for the beam transport was also quite exciting for me.”

Michaela also thinks that “it is very interesting to see the other side of the "collaboration" between machine and detector and how the collisions that we are providing are processed.”. For her it is always impressive “how huge and complex the detectors have to be in order to detect and measure those tiny particles”. Moreover, for Michaela “ALICE is particularly interesting due to its asymmetry and its philosophy to reuse the L3 magnet”.

During the visit, Werner and Despina gave a detailed account of the history of the ALICE experiment. In addition, Werner described the consolidation work that is carried out during the Long Shutdown period.

Their visit brought great pleasure to ALICE and we hope that they will return soon!