I mean, we all knew he would, obviously. He’s pretty smart (don’t tell him I told you that). So you can all now call him Dr P. It’s not every day that your partner becomes a doctor of particle physics so obviously, we had to celebrate.
P’s PhD was on Higgs boson physics. During this he worked with the ATLAS collaboration at CERN. Like me, he was a member of a huge, fascinating collaborative organisation made up of many hundreds of scientists from different research groups, universities and countries. He spent a year in Geneva working at the CERN site as well as his two and a half years at Glasgow. There was a lot of hard work, long hours and late nights and sometimes it was a real struggle. I’m so proud of him for having successfully defended his thesis and I’m excited that, with a little luck, we’ll be able to graduate together (for the second time) this coming summer.
His thesis lasted about four hours and he said the questions were mostly fine, although he struggled a little with some details about the ATLAS detector itself. P’s no engineer – he gets piles of data and analyses it, looking for the signals that indicate detections. I don’t think there’s any one scientist who has ever been involved in designing and building the ATLAS instrumentation and then analysing the results that come out of it, so it’s fair to not be sure about some details. Even so, he might need to extend his chapter on the detector just a little bit.
So, he has a few corrections; fix some typos, add some details here, refine explanations there. He’ll spend the next month working on these and then he’ll submit the final version of his thesis. All being well, the graduate school will approve it and he’ll have to get a few hard copies bound. Then he can sign up for graduation in summer.
First, though, we had a few glasses of fizz (and then a few more glasses of beer) with his research group and friends. He’ll make a start on his corrections this weekend while I go out teaching a physics masterclass and visiting the BBC Good Food show – giving him all the peace and quiet he needs. Then, next weekend, to further celebrate his success (and also his birthday) we’re planning a long weekend in Belgium. Hurrah! Three cheers for Dr P!