Discovering Particles

Meet the team: Vicki Moeller

What is it like being a scientist?
Most days being a scientist is the same as many other jobs; I wake up, sit down at the computer and work on analysing data. However, the data we are analysing is part of an attempt to understand the universe through its most fundamental particles and that makes it pretty special.

What inspired you to become a scientist?
When I first learned about the scientific method of proposing an idea, testing it every way you can think of to try and disprove it, and making sure other people can reproduce your results, I knew that was the way I wanted to learn about the world. Then, it was just a matter of finding an exciting subject to research and High Energy Physics won hands down.

What is the best thing about being a scientist / your job?
The best thing about my job is getting to work on the biggest machine ever built. There is always something new to learn about it and always someone new to learn from.

If you could go back in time which scientist would you like to meet and what would you ask them?
I think it is a tie between Vannevar Bush, whom I would like to ask about the next big scientific advance and Bertrand Russell to hear about the incident with Wittgenstein and the red hot poker.

What do you do in your free time?
I spend a lot of time with other students from my college, Peterhouse. I go to movies, play sports (rowing and cricket mostly), travel and listen to music.

What is the first science you remember doing?
I remember in kindergarten, spotting a caterpillar in the garden, watching it form a cocoon and waiting for it to disappear one day as a butterfly.

What advice would you give a school child who is interested in science/How would you inspire a child/non-scientist to be interested in the work you do?
Find something to wonder about every day. Then, seek out information on it with an open mind and you'll already know what being a scientist is all about. Just be prepared to change your mind if the evidence doesn't fit the understanding you had before.

What’s the funniest/strangest/most surprising experience you have had in your career?
The most exciting experience I had was being in the ATLAS semi-conductor tracker control room during the LHC start-up.

What discovery or invention could you really not live without?
Living an ocean away from my family and having friends all over the world that I want to keep in touch with, the internet is absolutely the more important invention in my life.

What do you think is the most important thing yet to be discovered/invented?
We need a truly environmentally-friendly and inexhaustible source of energy.

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