Bom dia, I am back with an update from Brazil!

Optimisation of the beamline optics continues. As expected for a endeavour like that, new and partly unexpected problems appear time and again. One example: After an adaptation made to the IT system, the Python scripts (scripting is a large part of the work here) run too fast (!). Communication with elements of the beamline cannot keep up. The working philosophy “One works – everyone else watches” for the operation of complex instruments is (just as in Austria) very common here. Maximum madness: Friday evening at 6 pm, 6 people sit in front of a screen, one of them presses a button and all stare spellbound at the changing numbers. When two hours later the collective effort is finally rewarded with a measured spectrum, however, only 3 people are left. Also, I can witness a PhD defense – here the work really has to be defended rigorously, my colleague is questioned for over three hours about his thesis.

Outside of work, a lot is happening as well. During the weekend, I move from the guest house to a shared apartment (including a cat and a dog). On Saturday the group celebrates with a BBQ party (i.a., the newly achieved doctoral title of my colleague and the success of measuring a spectrum after almost a year of setting up the instrument) – there is plenty of delicious food, beer, and the infamous original Caipirinha. On Sunday, there are the presidential elections (both locally and globally slightly more important than those in Austria…), my new flatmates take me to a little election party in the evening, where everyone follows the continuing updates on the results tensely. Furthermore, I attend a dance course for Samba and Forró (Samba music really is omnipresent here, everywhere you can find places where people are dancing, or groups are meeting to play music together). Also, my Portuguese keeps improving.

In that spirit – Tchau and best regards!

The RIXS-station at Sirius
Some of my new flatmates
Brazilian BBQ with Austrian grill apprentice
Samba session during the election party

The first week of my stay is passing quickly. I am becoming acquainted with some of the procedures at the beamline. As there was a longer shut down right before I arrived, including some changes to the accelerator, the week is fully dedicated to optical alignment. This is a rather complex matter, as the beamline consists of many optical elements, such as mirrors, slits, and gratings that all need to be adjusted cautiously. Besides work, I am starting to get to know my surroundings, especially the district where the research center is situated: Barão Geraldo. One evening, one of the colleagues takes me there for playing soccer (with beer afterwards) and on Saturday I visit the weekly market. Tulio has lent me his bike, so on Sunday I take advantage of the newly gained freedom and explore the area around Sirius. Here is a collection of observations and impressions I can report:

  • These southerners are so far south that, unlike in southern Europe, their eating times are back to normal again. That is, lunch is around 12 o’clock (in the excellent canteen!).
  • Everything is quite sweet here. For some things this is good (e. g. bananas), but for others I have to get used to (all the bread I tried has a certain sweetness). And desserts usually threaten to stick your mouth shut.
  • The campus around Sirius is home to a lot of fancy plants from around Brazil – including the Ipê tree, after which the beamline is named. As it is springtime, it is right now overflowing with beautiful yellow blossoms.
  • Barão Geraldo is the university district of Campinas and also hosts many high-tech companies. Although it is a part of Campinas, it feels more like a small city itself – however a very nice one with a mixture of student life and suburban communities.
  • When a Brazilian guy tells you a soccer match is “easy going” and “at a low level”, do not forget that it is measured on a Brazilian scale…
  • On the market in Barão Geraldo, you can buy a lot of food and drinks – from Brazil, but also from all over the world. I tried the coconut water but skipped the Apfelstrudel.
  • The cliché of Samba in Brazil is true. There was a little concert on the market, you can guess what kind of music they played.
  • The elections next Sunday are a hot topic for everyone. Many people on the market were handing out flyers, waving flags etc. Tulio suggested not to go to the city center of Campinas this or the next weekend.
  • If you look for a path for biking on Google maps, it might not recognize the priority of roads. So you can end up on everything between kind of a highway and an off-road track in the middle of farmland – the latter was much more beautiful.

Greetings from Brazil

Sirius, with Ipê-trees in blossom
Me, enjoying coconut water served in the nut
The lonely guardian of the farmlands

Despite a somewhat high adrenalin level (last-minute preparations, standby-ticket for the first flight, etc.), I do manage to travel to Brazil. I am here for a research stay at the CNPEM (Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Energia e Materiais (the Brazilian National Center for Research in Energy and Materials, that translation can – even with such little knowledge of the Portuguese language as mine – still be guessed correctly)), to be precise at the LNLS (Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncrotron), i.e. at the newly built, highly modern Synchrotron Sirius (no acronym, but named after the brightest start in the night sky). After the arrival in Campinas (in this “suburban” city (“only” 1.2 million inhabitants) close to São Paulo the research center is located), where the weather offers springlike (i.e. hot for me…) 27 °C, I am picked up by Tulio Rocha, the beamline scientist at the IPÊ-beamline (both an acronym (Inelastic scattering and PhotoElectron spectroscopy) and the name of a Brazilian tree – creations of that type are called apronym; all the beamlines here are such trees, however, at times it seems somewhat clumsy) and my wonderful host, and brought to the CNPEM. There I move into the guest house, get to know the IPÊ-group at lunch and coffee, have a first introduction to the beamline and connected facilities, and handle the welcoming paperwork. In the evening the jetlag puts me to bed quite early – this will be probably different in the next days, when I am about to explore the strange new world around me. I am very excited to see what the next two months will have in store.

Greetings from Brazil

PS: I will try to use less nesting for the next entries.

View of the experimental hall, with the IPÊ-Beamline in the back.