I will be traveling to Fermilab tomorrow for maybe the hundredth time in over seventeen years of participation in the glorious CDF experiment, to attend to my duties as a Scientific Coordinator of the crew overlooking data taking, which operates 24/7 in the control room sitting on top of the detector. It will be one week of full devotion to an amazing experiment, at a time when most of my energy and all of my brain is busy with organizing analyses for the data that hopefully will be soon collected by a different experiment: CMS at CERN, one of the two detectors that will soon steal the spotlights from CDF and DZERO thanks to the competitor accelerator at CERN, the Large Hadron Collider.
If I were free from obligations and commitments, and I could choose what to work on, I would probably choose to start skimming the huge dataset collected by CDF since 2001 in search for a rare process that caught my imagination eight years ago; a process which was unobservable in the 100 inverse picobarns dataset I had at hand back then, but which has a chance to be measured now, with the sixty-fold larger sample of proton-antiproton collisions now available. It would not advance Science much to search for those events, but it would satiate my curiosity -and curiosity is what drives me most in my job as an experimental physicist.
But obligations and commitments are the things that shape our lives -and justly so: the choice to devote most of my time to CMS was a well-thought one, and I stand by it fully. In a few months, I will hopefully put my hands on 7-TeV proton-proton collisions, and happily forget my relic attraction to CDF data. Still, I wish CDF a bright future. And the future of CDF is now probably going to extend to 2012, and maybe past it. I will continue to participate in CDF as long as I will be allowed to.
Right now, apart from shift duties such as the one I am about to attend for a week, my only real contributions to CDF take two forms. The first one is my participation in Godparent committees -groups of three sages who are assigned the task to take mature analyses by hand, bring them through the approval, and then through the complicated publication process; in the last few years, including 2009, I have taken part on average in two such committees per year. The second is my activity in the Spokespersons Publication Review Group, an official committee elected by the Spokespersons that reviews with care the various versions (two or more) of each and every paper that CDF seeks to publish in scientific journals. This is a demanding job, since CDF publishes about 50 papers per year!
All in all, those tasks take up about 20 percent of my research time. Is it too little to claim I still have a right to sign CDF papers ? This is a rather complicated question to ask, and I will leave to another day to discuss it. Of course, if you have an opinion, do spill your guts.