Most electron beam physics is considered in the context of a vacuum, but there are applications to long-range electron beam transmission in air. As particle acceleration sources become more compact, we may have the chance to take particle beams out to the real world. The example provided in the paper describes that of x-ray backscatter detectors, where significantly stronger signals could be achieved by scanning objects with electron beams. This paper forms the basis for a potential new mode of particle-beam research, and it is important to ensure the reproducibility of this work for groups who wish to explore the applications of this new technology.
There are many applications to multi-MeV X-rays. Their penetrative properties make them good for scanning dense objects for industry, and their ionising properties can destroy tumours in radiotherapy. They are also around the energy of nuclear transitions, so they can trigger nuclear reactions to break down nuclear waste into medical isotopes, or to reveal smuggled nuclear-materials for port security. Laser-driven X-ray generation offers a compact and efficient way to create a bright source of X-rays, without having to construct a large synchrotron. To fully utilise this capability, work on optimising the target design and understanding the underlying X-ray mechanisms are essential. The hybrid-PIC code is in a unique position to model the full interaction, so its ease-of-use and reproducibility are crucial for this field to develop.
Even though the approach in the paper focuses on a specific measurement (clumped isotopes) and how to optimize which and how many standards we use, I hope that the problem is general enough that insight can translate to any kind of measurement that relies on machine calibration. I've committed to writing a literate program (plain text interspersed with code chunks) to explain what is going on and to make the simulations one step at a time. I really hope that this is understandable to future collaborators and scientists in my field, but I have not had any code review internally and I also didn't receive any feedback on it from the reviewers. I would love to see if what in my mind represents "reproducible code" is actually reproducible, and to learn what I can improve for future projects!