A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

Sharing pizza across the Pacific

06/01/10

Monitoring a particle detector on the midnight shift can have a limited upside: the food.


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Photos courtesy of Jesus Vizan

Sharing pizza across the Pacific

Monitoring a particle detector on the midnight shift can have a limited upside: the food.

To compensate for the bad hours and limited social contact, control room supervisors on CDF, one of the Tevatron collider experiments at Fermilab, have a tradition of supplying their crews with dinner or a midnight snack. Offerings have included donuts and chips, a selection of fine cheeses and meats, and sushi brought in from two towns away.

But Japanese and Italian collaborators working remotely from control rooms at their home institutions lost out—until one night in April.

Junji Naganoma, a postdoc working at KEK in Japan, was sitting more than 6000 miles away, watching on a videoconference screen as his Illinois colleagues got ready for their midnight feast, when he heard a knock on the door.

It was a delivery man with an American-style pizza, a present from the CDF shift supervisor.

Other students gathered to gawk and hold up a Web cam so a shocked Naganoma could prove to his peers that he got their present and was eating the same thing they were. Everybody got a slice.

“They thought it was good of CDF to do,” Naganoma says.

Back at Fermilab, shift leader William Wester was relieved the delivery worked out. There had been so many things to worry about. The first pizza place he called in Tsukuba, Japan, had closed down. No one spoke English at the second, so he tried to order online, praying the buttons he clicked wouldn't stick him with a bill for a hundred pizzas—and that his credit card company wouldn't balk at approving a transaction involving an Illinois man ordering pizza for delivery in Japan.

Finally, Wester resorted to calling CDF collaborator Fumi Ukegawa, who was teaching in Japan, and had him place the order. As the clock ticked down to delivery time, Wester shot furtive glances at the videoconference screen, worrying Naganoma would start eating his own meal.

Laughing at the complexity of the delivery, Naganoma said it reminded him of times he spent working at Fermilab and reinforced one of the things he loves about particle physics: collaborating with people from many countries and sharing thoughts and traditions.

Tona Kunz

Click here to download the pdf version of this article.

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Photos courtesy of Fumi Ukegawa