It’s fascinating to read the GLAST blog, written by Steve Ritz and featuring the exploits of everyone’s favorite new gamma-ray observatory. Not that it’s perfectly transparent — it’s full of breathless exclamations along the lines of “Very early this morning the LAT and GBM flight computers were powered on and booted successfully. Later this morning, the process of turning on the LAT detectors will begin!” But you kind of get the idea, even if the acronym-heavy NASA-ese is not a model of accessibility. And so far, things are looking just great — in fact, the LAT (my guess is “Large Aperture Telescope,” and I’m too proud to look it up) just took it’s first science data! Which is indeed an event worthy of exclamation points.
Steve is a friend of mine, and a good choice for a blogger, but I have to admit that I prefer the blogs that are by the experiments themselves, rather than the people working on them. This is a path blazed by NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover, which had a (now sadly defunct) LiveJournal that made the Red Planet come to life: “The article also talked about my little, ahem, driving accident and implied that I am getting old and creaky — OMG so embarrassing!!! What if he read them!!”
What about the new Phoenix Lander? There was one of those boring human-based blogs for the landing, but the craft itself doesn’t seem to have it’s own blog. That’s because Phoenix is totally ahead of the curve, and eschews the outdated blogging format in favor of a Twitter account! And, of course, a Facebook profile. Good call, Phoenix — very cutting-edge.
So I want the Large Hadron Collider to have a blog. Humans are fine in their own way, of course, but I’d rather hear from the machine itself, or at least one of the experiments — an ATLAS or CMS blog would be fine. There is a Hardware Commissioning webpage, which makes the GLAST blog read like Dr. Seuss. (They’re cooling the thing down, and it seems to be going well.) There is also LHC Countdown, which seems less connected to facts on the ground.
Anyway, we are entering the home stretch, and the LHC should actually be injecting protons in July or maybe August. The beam won’t be at full strength yet, and there is going to be a lot of work to shake down the detectors and get everything in working order. After that, it’s up to Nature, who will decide whether to give us some interesting physics discoveries early, or really make us work for them.
In the meantime, a blog would help keep us up to speed. Now that we know that the LHC won’t destroy the world, it could use a media-friendly makeover. That’s all I’m saying.