Category Archives: Belgium

Anna’s 6th Week in Europe

Editor’s Note: Is Rami having any fun at all, or is he stuck in the lab?


I can’t believe it is already the end of July. This summer is flying by, but I guess we all know what they say… time flies when you’re having fun.


Progress has been made on the ARA station fitting and calibration. Thomas and I have incorporated a ray trace correction (as I talked about last week) successfully. On Wednesday I presented to the group about the progress we have made. Now next week we plan to test the reconstruction on some data that was taken from different locations surrounding the station with a pulser above the ice. Hopefully these results further prove we have successfully attained station coordinates.


This weekend I had my first visitors in Beglium! My cousin from Ireland and his girlfriend came to stay at our house. On Friday we went to Bruges for the morning and then traveled to Gent for a music festival that afternoon. On Saturday we traveled to Dinant and toured the city. In the evening we explored downtown Brussels. Brussels is so great in the dark with the whole city lit up. the picture below is a view from nearby the Parliament building looking down to the city. Sunday we spent the day at the Brussels Park and ate wonderful food downtown. It was so much fun sharing with people the country I call home temporarily.


Thanks for reading!


Week Five in Brussels


Week 5 has come and gone. This summer is going by way too fast. This week I started to wrap up the calibration and station fitting. I have been trying different ways to correct the timings of the hit when I input them into the reconstruction method. The reason for this is that we don’t take into account ray tracing. Ray tracing corrects  an effect on the radio pulse’s path because of the ice properties. It causes a curve in the path which would make the time from the pulse sent (either from the calibration pulses or a neutrino interaction in the ice) to the time the detector gets hit different than if it had a straight line path. Our reconstruction assumes there is a straight line path, so we have been trying to change this.


Over the weekend I traveled to DInant, Belgium. It is a lovely city south east of Brussels. I stayed at a hostel owned by a physicist and his wife that are from Michigan. Such a small world! On Saturday I did a little hiking and site seeing and on Sunday I kayaked down the river. It was a very relaxing weekend in a beautiful city. The picture above is the view from the room I stayed in at the hostel.


On monday Rami and I had the day off because it was a national holiday. We went downtown to the festivities. There was a fair and music throughout the city centre. It was cool to see the traditions of another city on a holiday. The holiday celebrates Beglium’s first king, Leopold. The royal family makes an appearance and the whole city awaits eagerly to see their royal family.


Another Two Weeks in Europe

The third week was was a great week with lots of work and football (of course). I have been continuing work on the calibrating geometry of the ARA stations. This is a big issue for ARA because in order to be able to reconstruct neutrino energies we need to know the location of our detectors accurately. I am using a bancroft method reconstruction to reconstruct the station location based on average time the detector is hit from a calibration pulser. Then I test the new geometry with a matrix based reconstruction developed by Thomas Meures. The tricky thing is the station location AND the calibration pulser locations are unknown, so there are a lot of free parameters in the fit. A lot of progress has been made and hopefully next week we will be ready to present to the group at IIHE.
This week USA played Belgium in football. Rami and I attended the game with some PHD students at a campus bar called the Kulture Kafe. It was so much fun, and I couldn’t help but enjoy the commotion  after Belgium won even though I was of course rooting for USA.
On Friday I headed over to Ireland to visit my older cousin, Cole, who is working there for the year at Boston Scientific in Clonmel, Ireland. It was a great long weekend where we hiked and had our own little 4th of july celebration away from home. The picture below is from one of the hikes we went on.
Week 4
Week 4 brought us rain, rain, and wait for it, more rain. It was good motivation to stay at the lab and work though! I gave a presentation during the group meeting on an update on our progress with ARA calibration and geometry fitting. We have improved the reconstruction method used to find the station’s geometry a little, but Thomas and I think it can be approved a little more. Eventually we will have to decide its as improved as it can be due to errors out of our control. Another member of the ARA collaboration is attempting to fit the station’s geometry using a different method and different data, and it should be interesting once we are done to compare results with him.
We watched the World Cup finals and cheered for Argentina, but Germany won. It was a lot of fun being in Belgium for the world cup because people pay more attention to it here then back home. Also working at a lab with such an international group of people makes it a lot of fun with everyone cheering for a different country and making fun when their home country wins (or in our case loses).
This weekend Rami and I decided to go on a couple of adventures. On friday night we ventured to downtown Brussels to check out an area called Place Sainte Catherine. It is a square with a lovely church, water fountain and many seafood restaurants. It is mussel season, so all of the restaurants had mussel specials. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a restaurant called Les Crustaceous. Then Saturday we went to Antwerp which is a very fun city. Antwerp is my favorite city in Belgium so far. On Sunday we visited Bruges. Bruges is very beautiful but very busy! The picture below is a canal in Bruges.


Week two in Europe

Beach in Zeeland
Beach in Zeeland


Week two had hard work in store. It was the first week Rami and I began our individual projects. I began work on calibration for the ARA detector and worked on improving reconstruction techniques. I am using python and C++ for coding. I attended the analysis and operation calls. One of the ARA stations hasn’t been working, so the operations call consisted of discussing techniques to restore its data taking. I found this very interesting and learned something I hadn’t previously known about. Next week I will present what I have accomplished so far with calibrations at a local group meeting here in Brussels.
On Thursday the university we work at, VUB, had a campus wide barbecue that every lab and department attends. There was live music and fantastic food. It was an awesome experience getting to meet other students, scientists and faculty on campus.
The rest of the week in the evenings, we watched some more football with fellow colleagues in Brussels and caught up on some sleep that I lost due to jet lag that finally hit me! This weekend Rami and I accompanied some of the IceCubers from VUB that we work with to Zeeland, Netherlands. We barbecued, swam in the North Sea, biked, shopped at old fashioned Dutch markets, and personally, ended up very sunburnt. The weather was fantastic the whole weekend and it was a great opportunity to bond with our colleagues. One night we went for an evening walk and found bioluminescent plankton in the sand. Every step we took the sand seemed to light up with bright blues and greens. Later we used our friend, google, to learn what it was. A little biology never hurts a physicist!