Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Science and technical reviews

So, this is probably going to be a dull entry, but I wanted to detail what sort of event I'm attending this week down in Puebla. This is a review called by the funding agencies to assess the progress of the experiment and verify that the money is being spent well.

To do that, there are management folks from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy (the main US funders of the project), some science reviewers from similar (or not especially similar) projects acting as peer reviewers, and folks from the Mexican funding agencies (which have a complicated setup that I don't fully understand) here to listen to talks from all different pieces of the experiment and ask questions.

Physicists are generally, let's go ahead and stereotype a little bit, pretty critical, and willing to push on questions for which they are unable with the answers. So a Q&A with a panel of physicists can be a loud, even brutal business. Obviously the management folks are much more reserved in such questioning. So talks have to be vetted ahead of time and delivered with some care.

So far the review has been going well, the project is in relatively good shape. Some things, especially for the site construction work, have been moving slowly, but delays are of a few months, nothing too horrible. The project now has about 135 people in the US and Mexico, and the total budget for the project will be on the order of $15M.

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