[Hallc_running] (Not your usual) Call for shifts for A1n/d2n Experiments in Hall C

Xiaochao Zheng xiaochao at jlab.org
Tue Mar 17 16:39:38 EDT 2020

Dear All:

A few more shifts slots need to be filled, please sign up:



From: Xiaochao Zheng
Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2020 11:44 PM
To: A1n d2n <a1n_d2n at jlab.org>; hallc_running at jlab.org <hallc_running at jlab.org>
Subject: (Not your usual) Call for shifts for A1n/d2n Experiments in Hall C

Dear All:

It has been a while since my last "Call for shifts" email. Well, the shift schedule looked really good for nearly a month, and thank you all for your support!

In fact, I had a few variations of "Call for shifts" emails in my draft box.  This way, if the shift schedule started to look dire, I could roll out an appropriate version like pulling rabbits out of a hat:

  "There are two things that make life worth living: Quarks, and ...[friends][family][music (not for me)][something lofty]...blah blah blah"
   "From quarks to jaguar, we can study them all ..." (says Gell-mann, which is a little beyond my pay grade).

But then, something in the background started to take over my thoughts, and none of above could fit the moment.

First, it was like a nearly non-existent humming: "Hey have you heard this Wu-han virus? Sounds really bad there...".
What? I don't care.

Then, my sister texted me: "All universities and schools are closed here.. we need passes to go out of home, two per week." She is in Beijing, and she asked for some surgical masks for her daughter. I mailed one box to my niece in Hong Kong. Since I was out of masks, I went on amazon but only found some priced at $k per box.
Things start to get serious in China, I thought, but my life still went on as usual. (and I didn't spend $k on masks).

My brother told me to buy some M1860 masks, M- what? I ignored him.

Next, came the cancellation of the APS March meeting, followed soon by the fall of Italy, and our European collaborators dissipated from the shift schedule. It was like a snowball started to materialize itself, and I became ungrounded.  During one of my long runs on a crispy morning, I started to question: "If we are really facing an epidemic that matters life or death to someone, then what's the point of running the experiment and should we still keep running?"  My answer that morning was a solid yes. Not by risking someone's health, of course, but because We still have domestic support, and we can fill shifts without problem, I thought. And We Love what We Do.

That was only one week ago.

Monday March 9th, the first day of UVa's spring break and right after my Sunday shift for A1n, the first case of covid-19 came to Virginia. I learned this not from the news, but from an early morning email by UVa President Jim Ryan. In his email, he announced all international travel to level-2 and -3 countries are prohibited, and that he would "give an update on the UVa academic program mid-week."  I googled for "online teaching", and when I saw MIT, Stanford, Princeton and Columbia all went completely online, my heart skipped a beat.

No, it is not possible to transition all UVa courses online within a week.

Wednesday, President Ryan announced UVa goes online on March 19th. My heart skipped two beats. I knew at that moment that the whole higher education would go online, and I knew from that moment that this year is different, for all countries, for everyone.  I could no longer focus on hclogs and MCC status. I spent the whole afternoon figuring out available online meeting/lecturing tools and apps. I bought an apple pencil. I borrowed webcams and ethernet adaptors for my slightly outdated laptop. I paced up and down the hallway. That evening, I hijacked my 6-year old's iPad trying to figure out how to zoom-meet, and I started to worry what my students would feel when they are told they cannot return to campus and they have to spend the rest of the year separated from each other.

Thursday, I gave my annual "light and wave demo" to fifth-graders. Then I raced back to UVa to practice using the classroom camera. The best way to overcome a challenge is to embrace and act on it, I told myself. Soon, I started to feel confident: I figured out how to transition each component of my course online, from lecture, group discussions, to homework assignment and office hours. As the teaching "czar" (this is what some of my colleagues call me), I even sent out "instruction for how to go online" to all faculty in my department. When I went to school to pick up my children after work, I thought: "I can do this."

I can do this as long as public schools are still open.

Friday, Virginia governor announced all K-12 schools would be closed for 2 weeks minimum.  And UVa would no longer allow non-essential domestic travel.

Life no longer looked challenging, it started to look laughable.
How am I going to pull this off? Teaching, research, service, and watching my family 24/7?

I couldn't find an answer, so instead I went to the bookstore. Other people hoard life essentials, I hoard iPads and 2nd-grade math workbooks.

Saturday, I ran 7 miles, and asked my students how they are doing. Some of them proudly told me they ran 7 miles too. Some ran 3. Some told me they sprinted uphill near their home. Many have watched my test lecture. Following my request, half of them have formed study buddies/groups.

Sunday morning, I videotaped 2 hours of lectures.

Now, Sunday night, I feel I can do this again!  I can do this as long as I am needed to. And I know my students need me to keep them engaged and learning, my children need me to keep their life structured and going, my colleagues may not need me hovering over them but I will, because I am the chair of the teaching committee and I am over-controlling.

All right, the rabbit of the moment has finally jumped out of my hat. Back to the experiment side: A1n has officially ended more than two days ago, at 8 am on Friday March 13th. Our second cell BigBrother performed beautifully, averaging (50-55)% in-beam polarization throughout its term, and it really taught us a few things.  In the past three days, the target expert team has been working around the clock on dismounting cell BigBrother, surveying the field, and rotating the main target Helmholtz Coils in preparation for the d2n experiment.  The next cell "Austin" is being fully prepared and is ready to be mounted.

I am not on-site and may not be able to come for a while, but for every turn that the pandemic has brought to my life, I thought about how people at JLab has being holding it together. That includes you, everyone on the shift schedule and everyone working continuously and tirelessly in the hall. That includes Radcon and tech teams who have been supporting our target crew. That includes all ops. And that includes all local staff who have stepped in to trade shifts from our university users who can no longer travel to the lab. I know you all can do this, you can do this as long as you are needed to.

And finally, we need TO for Thursday owl and Friday owl, SL for Saturday owl and swing, and SL for Sunday owl and day. To sign up, please go to:

Finally, stay safe, stay home, or stay in the counting house.

(Not your usual) spokesperson for A1n,

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