Japan / Tsukuba / KEK

Kon-ni-chi-wa!

Got to Japan a few days ago. Took the bus from Narita airport to Tsukuba Station, then the local bus to KEK.

I’ve been to a ramen place, the convenience store, the grocery store, the Indian restaurant, the Italian restaurant, and the mall by the bus station (which has a mister donut). I got an international driver’s permit before I came, so I’ve driven now a couple times (they drive on the left here). I practiced first by driving around the ring where there’s no traffic, then dropped some colleagues off at the bus station, then got a little more adventurous (read: got lost). I’ve also driven by a KFC, a McDonald’s, a Starbucks and a Denny’s. Didn’t stop in.

There’s a lot of vending machines here – several outside or in the lobby of almost every building. Cold drinks (tea, coffee, soda and juice), hot drinks (tea and coffee) and beer. Some of them have food in them that the vending machine will microwave for you before it drops out of the chute. There’s also a convenience store on the KEK campus, as well as a restaurant and a cafeteria. I haven’t been to the restaurant yet. The buildings on campus don’t have a lot of insulation and they don’t heat the open spaces in them (like lobbies and common areas). Each room has a heater/air conditioner and you’re supposed to turn it off when you’re done using the room. In my apartment, the only setting I can figure out on the microwave is to get it to heat until the food temperature is 80 Celcius (which is a neat idea, I’m just not sure it’s taking a good measurement). They’re very conscious about recycling on campus – there’s a separate can for regular trash that they can incinerate, aluminum/steel cans, polyethylene bottles and there’s one for trash that shouldn’t be incinerated.

The building where I’m working (Fuji Hall) is a building that goes 5 stories below ground (and two above) that’s in the path of the KEKb accelerator ring. It has one giant room that’s 5 stories tall that’s mostly empty now, but used to house a particle detector that would dwarf a person standing next to it. The other building that’s the same size as Fuji Hall and is on the other side of the accelerator ring (called Tsukuba Hall) is where the Belle detector is/was (which also would dwarf a person standing next to it). That is where the 10′ long scintillator bars and photomultiplier tubes that I am working with came from (part of the former inner-detector). We’re setting up a hodoscope / cosmic ray telescope so that we can calibrate TOP counters (once we start making them). It will will ensure that we can associate any signals we see on the TOP counters with known particle tracks from cosmic rays.

Here’s some pictures. Click for a larger version.

flying over Honolulu:

out over the pacific somewhere:

view of the street near Tsukuba Center:

yummy mister donuts:

the height of the big room in Tsukuba Hall:

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