For my shifts I have to get up at the previously unknown time of 6:40am - it's quite a hardship I can tell you. I bet no-one else has ever had to get out of bed so early to start a job! I then have a 20 min drive along some of the most boringly straight roads you have ever seen (luckily my car has cruise control otherwise I think my legs would just cramp up from the monotony).
At the start of today's shift I was given the folder containing the visitor rules and regulations, which I've had to read. There's a computer use policy in there and I'm not sure if writing this blog constitutes allowed use of the computing infrastructure - it's probably fine.
I learned a bit about how LIGO compensates for the fact that tidal forces stretch the detector arms. We pre-calculate the expected change and perform some thermal adjustments to compensate. However in reality this only corrects for about half the total effect, so we also have to apply some actuation to the end test masses. Our first loss of lock today was caused by one of the controls for these actuators reaching the end of it's allowed range and getting stuck.
I've been trying to teach myself how to use the LIGO DataViewer, which is one of the software tools that allows us to quickly look at the data from all the different channels that the detector produces (it outputs data channels that contain any gravitational wave signal, but it also has hundreds of auxiliary channel monitoring various states of the detector systems). With this I can look at a snapshot of data, have a real time feed, or trend past data, from all the channels available.
I also submitted this paper to The Astrophysical Journal.
In other exciting news today I decided to make my own lunch rather than buy one of the very poor quality sandwiches from the 7-eleven on the way in. I have some bagels and a large tub of Philadelphia, and muffins.
Come back tomorrow to see I can keep up this scintillating, and enthralling, diary.