Michal joined ALICE six years ago as a PhD student at the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, doing analysis on anti-baryon – baryon ratio in lead-lead collisions and proton-lead collisions. After successfully defending his thesis, he was employed by the same university and he started doing some hardware work in ALICE. “We are preparing a new laboratory for the Time Projection Chamber (TPC) upgrade, dedicated to ion mobility measurements. When particles go through the TPC, both electrons and ions are created. Since we don’t need those ions for our measurements, we are trying to find a more efficient gas mixture, in which they will leave the TPC space faster. We are now developing concepts and buying the hardware for this laboratory.” In the meantime he is doing some final systematic checks on his analysis and he is also the ALICE administrator for a local computer farm.
Michal attended an electronics high school in his home town, Banská Bystrica, when the government of Slovakia decided to increase the number of foreign language courses. The physics lessons in his school were cut to only one hour per week. “That change left me really curious about physics and its laws and I wanted to know more. That is why I decided to study to be a physics and computer science teacher, the closest thing to physics that my home town university could offer. My Bachelor and Masters supervisor worked at CERN and he invited me to help him with a few particle physics projects. That motivated me even more to focus on research, so after graduating I moved to Bratislava for my PhD in nuclear physics.”
In the beginning of this year Michal was invited to be run manager for the second half of May. “You have to know a lot about the operation of ALICE and you also need to know a lot of people. It is interesting, I learned a lot of things about the detectors. Now I have a complex view on the whole experiment. The LHC team recently did the Van der Meer scan. We had to spend more than 12 hours in Point 2 per day, preparing ALICE for the scan and discussing what actions we would take in different scenarios. The atmosphere in the Control Centre is magnificent, everybody is friendly and helpful. I feel lucky I have the chance to be a part of this team.”
In his free time Michal likes going for walks in nature with his wife, with whom he lives in Bratislava. He also plays the saxophone. “I started doing that in the third year of my PhD. I really like this instrument, I like how it sounds. I also like the fact that there is a lot of mathematics involved in playing an instrument.”