Category Archives: Students

Boot Camp 2015

On June 7th the students, together with Fhon, Suruj, and a fish, set out to Madison for the IceCube software boot camp.   Boot camp is a week long intense introduction to IceCube, Neutrino Astrophysics, python, C++, and the IceCube software and data files framework. It’s designed to get new ‘cubers up to speed on all aspects of IceCube physics, simulation, and analysis software. The boot camp organizers at 222 spent a lot of time preparing lectures and exercises for the campers, and a lot of resources were provided that could be used as references and templates when the campers returned to their home institutions.  At boot camp one gets a good feel for the scope and impact of IceCube on the particle astrophysics community, and  an appreciation of how amazingly helpful everyone in IceCube is to those just starting with IceCube.

Fish
Fish

There was no shortage of good snacks and drinks during the breaks! The sessions ran from 9 am to 6 pm each day and the boot camp leaders managed to keep everyone engaged all the time ( a testament to their good work in preparing the material for the camp and the general geeky and nerdy nature of the ‘campers themselves).

On the last day of the boot camp, teams worked on projects and made presentations at the end of the day.

Kyle, Laura, Nick #1  and Nick #1 explain the linefit project they wrote for their project.
Kyle, Laura, Nick #1 and Nick #1 explain the linefit project they wrote for their project.
Hanna, Samantha, Kevin, and Robert explaining Igel Fit and what it has to do with Hedgehogs.
Hanna, Robert, Kevin, and Samantha explaining their implementation of Igel Fit and what it has to do with Hedgehogs.
Vanessa explaining her team's implementation of the HESE veto.
Vanessa explaining her team’s implementation of the HESE veto.

Students had earlier spent  all morning and part of the afternoon working  on their projects, with one IceCube expert assigned to each team.

Igel Fit team, taking their project very seriously.
Igel Fit team, taking their project very seriously.

 

Finding humor in the HESE veto project.
Finding humor in the HESE veto project.

 

Linefit team with HESE team in background.
Linefit team with HESE team in background.

Laura and Kelsey in Germany

Editors Note: Laura’s and Kelsey’s first week in Germany was in the first week of June

Hello all!

Kelsey and I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Deutschland and spend 10 weeks continuing our work with the IceCube project. I can’t believe that we’ve already been here for a week, so much has happened so far!

The flight overseas was 8 hours long. We flew into Düsseldorf on Thursday morning and then had a 45 minute car ride back to Bochum. It’s beautiful here! We met Sebastian, one of the grad students who we will be working with. He showed us around campus and helped us figure out where we were going. On Friday we met everyone else who we would be working with. It was the university’s 50th anniversary celebration that weekend, so no work was being done. Saturday was the “Blau Pause”. They closed the entire University Street for 5 km so that pedestrians and cyclists could wander amongst all of the tables, tents, and stands.

Kelsey in downtown Bochum.
Kelsey in downtown Bochum.

Come Monday, we had our first official day of work. Fabian and Sebastian, two grad students who we will work with told us a little about each of their projects and we were able to choose which one we preferred. Sebastian and Kelsey are working on neutrino propagation in the Earth and Fabian and I are working on the Sun shadow analysis.

So far, we’ve just been adjusting to life here in Germany and getting used to our projects. We’ve done a little exploring around Bochum. It’s a lovely city and much larger than I first thought. The weather has also been beautiful, which makes it even better. This was just our first week, so I’m excited to see what amazing adventures the next 9 weeks have in store for us!

Tschüss!

Summer 2015 Undergraduate Astrophysics Research Starts at UWRF

It’s summer again and thirteen students are here for astrophysics research. Six of them are NSF REU students, and with the others they will work on projects on IceCube and the neutron monitors at McMurdo and Antarctica. Two from this large summer group will go to Antarctica this year. Week 1 was spent at UWRF where students got a quick fire introduction to computer programming, neutrino astrophysics, and neutron monitors. This summer we have a visiting faculty, Dr. Waraporn “Fhon” Nuntiyakul, from Chandrakasem Rajabhat University in Thailand. Fhon’s research is on neutron monitors. Each Monday students will participate in professional development workshops with other summer scholars on campus. This week we also got some lead and polyethylene from Delaware, which we will use with the neutron monitors. Here are some photos from the first week. Next week is Boot Camp in Madison!

Nick K, Samanthan, Nick J, and Kevin (front), writing code.
Joe, Nick K, Samantha, Nick J, and (front row) Kevin and Kyle, writing code.
Kim,  Sam, Hanna, and (front row) Laura, Justin writing code.
Kim, Sam, Hanna, and (front row) Laura, Justin writing code.
Robert and Vanessa (front row) hacking away at code.
Robert and Vanessa (front row) hacking away at code.
Fohn gives a seminar on neutron monitors in Thailand.
Fhon gives a seminar on neutron monitors in Thailand.
Talking over moving 200 lb blocks of lead.
Talking over moving 200 lb blocks of lead.
Waiting for help?
Waiting for help?
Carefully placing a lead ring in lab.
Carefully placing a lead ring in lab.
Sam and Vanessa at UWRF running the cDOM simulations remotely  on the GPU machine in Madison.
Sam and Vanessa at UWRF running the cDOM simulations remotely on the GPU machine in Madison.
Moving lead again, building our neutron monitor.
Moving lead again, building our neutron monitor.

 

And now, off to boot camp!!

Observations About McMurdo Station

Hello!

The past few days have been quite busy with working at CosRay disassembling the enclosures of the Neutron Monitors. We moved 10 tons of lead, twice! In the beginning we needed the lead to be out of the way so that we would be able to work and cut the platform that we needed to down to size. After we got that all configured we were able to begin moving items into crates to be shipped off to a Korean base in Antarctica. The Neutron Monitors here in McMurdo is one of the oldest experiments running in Antarctica. So working on this project has been quite unique.

The lead was a little trick to move as each yoke of lead weighed over 200 pounds! However, we worked with the carpenters here and they were able to design a specially built ramp to make the moving of the lead into the crates much easier, and more efficient. We worked in a team of five to move all this lead into crates and then into a container. Four of us would load the crate full of six yokes of lead and then the forklift operator was able to get each of these pallets out of the building.

After a long day’s work we got to see some of the beautiful sights here. We hiked up a mountain known as Observation Hill(featured image above)  which has an absolutely gorgeous view. Not only did we climb up a mountain and get to look at the view down, but we also were able to go underneath the ice in something called an Observation tube, we were able to see thousands of tiny fish swimming around outside, along with some Jellyfish. If you listened close you could hear the sounds of creatures making high pitched noises.

Observation tube in frozen sea-ice shelf
Observation tube in frozen sea-ice shelf

 

Not only are the sights amazing, but the people that you meet here are probably some of the most interesting people around. As you talk to these people you can see the passion that they have for their science, the discoveries that they’ve made. If you think you’ve done some interesting things all you have to do is talk to someone here and you will see how truly amazing people can be.

Cheers,
Sam

A Week at McMurdo

Hello from Antarctica!

We arrived in McMurdo on Wednesday of last week, it took about a 5 hour plane trip but we finally landed on the ice. The first day was more relaxed, as we settled in. Shortly after that though we began to work, the next day we had a meeting with some support to help us get our project moving.

Over the past few days we have been taking trips out to CosRay, this is building the Neutron Monitors are kept. It’s a little walk away from the base, but the view from walking is pretty amazing. At CosRay there are three sections of Neutron Monitors, our mission is to dissemble one of these sections and change the shape and dimensions of the platform that it stands on in order to move this to a Korean Station.

As we started we began disconnecting and disassembling the entire platform, and removed the monitors. This took a lot of work as there was 10 tons of lead that had to be moved. After all the heavy lifting we began planning a new configuration for the section as it had to now fit into a shipping container. Using a three dimensional drawing software we were able to plan what we needed. Today we began to implement the plan, and started doing the actual cutting of the platform. So far we are off to a very good start on our project. Tomorrow we will be configuring the insolation size, as well as a few other odds and ends.

Cheers!
Sam

First week in Antarctica: Adventures of Sam and Prof. Madsen

Penguins
Penguins
jamesShacksHut
James, Shakelton’s Hut
Paul and Sam removing neutron monitor tubes.
Paul and Sam removing neutron monitor tubes.
Sam and Jim
Sam and Jim

 

Sam moved 10 tons of lead.
Sam helped move 10 tons of lead!

Happy Birthday Sam:  Sam turned 21 yesterday (which is actually tomorrow in the US?)!

We have had a couple of good days of work, and I got a rare chance Sunday to go out to Cape Royds where a friend does research on the penguin colony there.  It is the furthest colony inward, and the smallest in the area with a few thousand birds.  The other two places have ~50, 000 and more than 500,000 birds respectively.  So most of the penguins have more sense than to setup house so far from the open water.  These are the loners or those that just like the exercise I guess.  Cape Royds is also historically famous because it has Ernest Shackleton’s shack from his 1907 expedition.

Sam is working hard.  We have taken the neutron monitor down-moved 10 tons of lead!  And then dissembled the enclosures, which were quite dirty.  They needed to do a fair amount of grading outside in order to get a forklift and truck that can carry the shipping container near the CosRay building.  We are hoping to be mostly done by the end of the week but that depends on when the special forklift needed will be available.

Best,

Prof. Jim Madsen

James Roth, Erebus
James Roth, Erebus

Sam Down Under

Editor’s note: Sam Gardner, intern from summer 2014, is on his way to McMurdo Station in Antarctica. He will be blogging about his trip, stay tuned.

Hello!
As we were flying we had a long layover in Sydney, Australia. This gave us a chance to take in some of the amazing sights. We even got lunch at the Oldest Pub in Sydney, and what was even more surprising is that they had the packers game playing live on the television.   After we explored Sydney we headed back to the airport in order to catch our flight to New Zealand. After what felt like endless flying finally we arrived in New Zealand. We arrived late Monday night, and finally got to sleep in an actual bed. This morning we went to the United States Antarctica program building in order to receive our cold weather gear. Things are actually beginning to sink in, as we tried on all of our gear and packed bags to be headed to Antarctica. It is amazing, and a bit frightening at the same time, but more exciting than anything else!

After we received our gear we got the chance to explore Christchurch a little bit, so we decided to take a trip down to the harbor and see some of what New Zealand had to offer, the sites of all these countries are just beautiful to see.  As the day of leaving for Antarctica comes closer the excitements builds further! Tomorrow, hopefully, we will be in McMurdo, then after getting acclimated we will start with our mission!

As we get to McMurdo I will hopefully be able to post an update!

Cheers!
Samuel Gardner

Lyttleton Harbour, Christchurch, New Zealand
Lyttleton Harbour, Christchurch, New Zealand

Kelsey Kolell: A Summer Away From Family

Hello!

I’m Kelsey Kolell and I am currently attending UW-River Falls as a Sophomore. While here, I am double majoring in physics and math with later hopes of going off to grad school to get my Ph.D. in physics. Like many people my age, I had problems trying to decide what I want to do with my life, and while I am not one hundred percent sure what I want to do, I know that it will involve physics. I found I had a love for physics in my advanced physics class in high school. After taking the class, I knew physics was something I wanted to study more. My teacher told me about River Falls; it was where she had gone to school to get her Masters.

When talking with my advisor about what classes I should take and what would be the best path for me in my college career, he mentioned the IceCube internship for the summer. I had only heard a few things about IceCube at the time, but it seemed like a great opportunity to get research experience while as an undergrad. There was just one problem: I live four and a half hours away from River Falls. I either had the choice of staying home with my family and friends and work at my wonderful fast food job or come to River Falls to work on the IceCube project. Even though I wouldn’t be able to see my family for months at a time, I thought that working on IceCube would be a better choice for me.

For the first couple of weeks everything was way over my head. I barely knew anything about neutrinos or IceCube and I had no experience in programming. It was scary at first, being so lost. After those weeks though, things got better. I started to understand what I was doing and I learned a lot more about IceCube. In particular I learned a lot about cDOMs. I work with the color DOMs to find the direction in which they are orientated on String 14. At least that was the plan. As it turns out, we do not live in a perfect world where scripts work the first time you use them. It has taken weeks of running scripts, looking at graphs, and looking at the scripts to understand why it wasn’t working. After adjusting the scripts a little bit, we were able to get most of the fits for the cDoms. String 14 has caused me a lot of trouble, but hopefully we can fit all the cDOMs soon.

Now that I am here, I know I made the right choice. I have found ways to stay in touch with my family, so even though I live alone in the dorms, I still feel like they are there for me. But everything was worth it. I have learned things that surprise me. Every time I explain to people what I am doing this summer, I realize how much I really know. Once I was asked about IceCube and I started to talk about neutrinos and DOMs, it didn’t occur to me that people wouldn’t know what it was, because it is normal vocabulary for me. At the beginning of summer I couldn’t even pronounce DOM right but now I could inform people about them. I enjoy learning more and more every day. I look forward to the future and where my adventures in physics take me.

~Kelsey Kolell

Another Two Weeks in Europe

Hello! 
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.
Ireland
Week 4
Hello!
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.
Anna
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