25
Oct

Life is short: Automate the drudgery, keep the creative part

Post title - LIONblog

Image of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

I risked ending up doing experimental physics in my previous life, when I got a summer job at a Caltech experimental group in the late eighties. I was paid to help in setting up a huge experimental apparatus to measure neutrinos. Neutrinos are very elusive, and the piece I was handling was an enormous container of mineral oil, with detectors to measure photons.

To make the story short, I connected the powerful pump to transfer mineral oil from a container to another one. After a couple of minutes the tube collapsed and I ended up covered by a refreshing fountain of mineral oil. So when I talk about the drudgery of experimental science, I know what I am talking about.

Now most of the experimental work is done in front of computers, but still the emotional and creative part risks being overshadowed by many daily chores, like data integration, data cleaning, developing complex visualizations, designing "triggers" (predictors of interest for a specific experimental event).

This was our main motivation in developing our LIONlab software: automate the daily chores to use our brain for the intelligent work of designing and interpreting new experiments.