by Sukalyan Chattopadhyay & Indranil Das. Published: 30 April 2011

“Without entering to the ALICE cavern, no one can believe about the existence of the such a beautiful and gigantic apparatus,” said Milan Kumar Sanyal, the Director of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) during his first visit to CERN.

Palash Khan

from left to right, Paolo Martinengo ALICE Run Coordinator, Sukalyan Chattopadhyay ALICE Saha Institute Team Leader, Rudiger Voss CERN Adviser for Non-Member States, Prof. Milan K. Sanyal Director of Saha Institute, Catherine Decosse ALICE Resources Coordinator, Paolo Giubellino ALICE Spokesperson and Indranil Das from Saha Institute.

Sanyal is a renowned Indian physicist, active in the fields of surface physics, nanoscience and nanotechnology. Although the visit to the cavern on 31 March was not part of the original tour plan, when the opportunity arose to visit the ALICE pit, as an experimental physicist, Sanyal promptly agreed.

Starting from the first entry point, the lift of the ALICE pit, spokesperson Paolo Giubellino and Sanyal discussed the different parameters and various observables of the experiment. Sanyal admired the complexity of ALICE and its importance in studying the properties of the ultimate constituent of matter. He became most excited, when he looked at the Muon Spectrometer – possibly because SINP is actively involved in the Muon Collaboration.

The Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics is a multi-disciplinary research institute in Kolkata and is as old as CERN. It joined the ALICE Collaboration in 1997 and High Energy Nuclear and Particle Physics Division of SINP is responsible for the design, fabrication and operation of the Second Muon Tracking Station, which has around 226,000 readout pads.

In addition, SINP designed and delivered 108,000 MANAS - ASIC based readout chips - which are presently used for muon tracking and measurement of photon multiplicity at large rapidities. SINP is also involved in the ALICE’s High Level Trigger (HLT) project and played a key role in developing the fast algorithm of clustering, tracking, quality assurance and online event display for the Muon Spectrometer.

On 1 April, Sanyal was warmly greeted by Rudiger Voss, a senior physicist from ATLAS, and the advisor for non-member state relations with CERN. Voss accompanied Sanyal in his official CERN tour, where he visited the CERN Control Centre, the LHC Magnet Hall, the CMS Control Centre, the Isolde Facility and the ALICE Control Centre at Point 2.

At point 2, he was first taken to the operating desk of the Muon Spectrometer where Herve Borel, who is responsible for Muon Tracking, explained and demonstrated the readout and online monitoring of the Muon Chambers. Sanjoy Pal, a post Doctoral student from CEA Saclay, explained the different parameters of the readout browsers. Since there were no collisions during his visit, a few plots which represent the quality of recorded data, were shown from the HLT.

Sanyal was then led to the ALICE exhibition hall at point 2. Paolo Giubellino took a leading role in explaining and demonstrating the different detector components of ALICE. Throughout the session Sanyal showed interest in the different detector subsystems of ALICE, and asked questions about their functionalities.

After visiting the exhibition hall, Sanyal was taken to the HLT computing farm, where Indranil Das explained to him the necessity of the HLT in ALICE’s heavy ion data taking. The challenges of timing constraints for the clustering, tracking, online display and quality assurance were also explained. Sanyal had couple of questions regarding the building of such a powerful computing cluster, and when he came to know that these were built, organized and maintained by handful of students, he seemed very impressed.

A sudden visit to the ALICE cavern, the complete view of the Muon Spectrometer, the serious discussions with Paolo Giubellino, the powerful features and operation of HLT cluster and most importantly the warm greetings and homely atmosphere of ALICE distinctly marked this visit to Europe as different to Sanyal’s previous trips.

We, the ALICE members of the SINP, thank Herve Borel, Catherine Decosse, Paolo Giubellino, Paolo Martinengo, and Rudiger Voss from the bottom of our hearts for their active support during the visit of our director.