20 October 2008 | By
When ATLAS physicist Andi Salzburger finished his PhD in May 2008, he thought of doing something really special to celebrate such a milestone in his life. He ended up walking 430Km, traveling the whole length of Iceland from North to South on foot.
Andi did this unusual walk, the Icelandic crusade, with a physicist friend from CMS. He describes the experience as “absolutely worth it.” This ATLAS-CMS joint venture was not only great for seeing one of the world’s most beautiful and remote landscapes, but also as a fundraiser. The team raised more than 3,000 CHF for the organisation Save the Children. You can still donate here, and also find some pictures of the trip.
Andi’s path into physics goes back to 1997 at the University of Innsbruck, in Austria. He simultaneously enrolled in physics and literature programs in his first year at university: “In the end, both, physics and literature describe life,” he laughs while explaining his quirky choice. After some time, he gave up literature and concentrated on physics: “It suited me better,” he concedes.
In 2001, Andi came to CERN for the first time as a summer student, and was hooked into high-energy physics. He stayed on at Innsbruck University for his PhD. He obtained a studentship, which allowed him to be permanently based at CERN. So, in 2003 Andi moved to Geneva: “I like it here. After so many years, I consider it home now.”
His PhD covered a new concept of fast simulation and the new track reconstruction algorithms of the inner detector and their performance. Considering that so far all his work for ATLAS has been related to track reconstruction, Andi calls himself “a tracker”.
For a mountain-lover type as Andi, Switzerland provides the ideal landscape for one of his favorite hobbies: not tracking but trekking. Since he arrived in Geneva, Andi has discovered the country: “What a good chance to live and work in a place where you can see the sunrise above the Mt. Blanc from the Mole and still be at work in time!”
Andi has secured a research position as a CERN project associate with DESY Zeuthen till July 2009. After this, he would like to stay on within the collaboration and see the ATLAS detector working: “It would be a nonsense to leave the collaboration at this point,” he jokes.
When asked what he wants to see coming out from the ATLAS detector, Andi gives a clear answer: “First, I’d simply like to see the machine working. The satisfaction of seeing the entire chain working after all the effort put in by so many people. Other, bigger things can come later!” Like in hiking, a step at a time.