New Lund University postdoc Antonio talks to ALICE Matters about life in physics and beyond.
I was born in Puebla City, the capital of Puebla State in Mexico. Puebla is one of the most beautiful colonial cities of Mexico. There, life is nice, and the food is varied and delicious. I like to dance salsa, it’s a very good physical activity, and before moving to Lund I used to take zumba classes, a group activity focused on cardiovascular exercise. It consists of dancing to different Latin American music styles. I also like to run, swim, and read, in particular historical and crime novels.
Antonio Ortiz VelasquezAntonio outside the cathedral of Lund City
I read about the “quark-gluon soup” for the first time in elementary school books and I thought I would like to study physics in order to study such an interesting state of matter. I like particle physics because its goal is to understand nature at a very small scale. In particular the work of the experimentalist is quite funny because you have to figure out how to measure an observable which could be compared with models. My Bachelor studies were at the University of Puebla (BUAP) and I did my Masters degree and PhD at the National University of Mexico (UNAM). Now I am working for ALICE as a postdoc at Lund University.
Lund’s group announced a postdoctoral position in 2011. I applied because the topic they were working on, particle identification of hadrons at high pT using the ALICE-TPC, was very attractive for me. I officially started in Lund in November 2011 but due to visa issues I did not arrive until January 2012. Life in Lund is completely different to life in Mexico. First, the number of people on the streets is smaller than in Mexico, so you can easily move around by bike. Of course in Mexico that is impossible. Also, social security and quality of life are much better in Sweden. I even found an excellent replacement to zumba: gympa, where we practice cardio, strength and flexibility in tune with music. One activity I do every day is to read the most important newspapers, because it’s very important for me to be informed about what is going on in Mexico.
I am currently based in Lund, as for data analysis you only need a good computer and internet connection. However, the idea is to visit CERN frequently in order to participate in the Collaboration meetings and to take shifts in the ALICE Control Room.
When I was at BUAP I worked with Arturo Fernandez Tellez in ACORDE, which is a scintillator counter array acting as a cosmic trigger. While at UNAM I worked with Guy Paic. The topic of my thesis was event shapes in proton-proton collisions. It is an interesting subject because with these kinds of observables you can discriminate events with ‘soft’ structure (isotropic energy distribution, low pT) and ‘hard’ structure (high pT, jet-like structure). The measurement of the event shape as a function of multiplicity can be directly compared with models in order to detect where models fail. Now in Lund I work with Peter Christiansen on the identification of high pT charged hadrons using the TPC. The analyses in heavy ion collisions permit us to measure the nuclear modification factor (at least for pions). It is very important to understand the parton energy loss when they traverse through the hot and dense medium created in heavy ion collisions.