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.
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.
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.
Editor’s Note: Anna Christenson (UW-Madison) and Rami Jubara (Normandale College) spent last summer as IceCube interns. This summer they are interning with the IceCube group in Brussels, Belgium.
The first week is over! Rami and I arrived at 9 AM Sunday June 16th in the Brussels national airport, and had to wait for Professor Kael Hanson who’s plane arrived at 1:00 PM. Kael and his wife drove us to our apartment, which is a very nice apartment! We explored the area around our apartment which is VUB and ULB campus and some shops.
Bootcamp started Monday and they worked us to the bone, … just kidding! Bootcamp was fantastic and the speakers were all very helpful and we learned a lot about IceCube! On Tuesday night we went with some of the visiting PHD students to watch the Belgium football game at pub near our apartment. The streets were full of crazy fans after they won which was a lot of fun to see. On Wednesday we had a bootcamp dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Cafe de Epices.
On Friday the bootcamp was wrapped up and instead of attending the last two hours, I met with a PHD student, Thomas Meures, who will be the person I report to daily. I will be working on the experiment Askaryan Radio Array. We discussed what I will work on for the first few weeks. The plan is to work on a calibration method Thomas has developed and later work on improving a reconstruction method. Friday night, we went and explored the downtown area in Brussels (which is where the picture below is from).
On Sunday, Rami and I explored the beautiful city of Ghent. It was an hour train ride there. Ghent has been my favorite thing I have seen so far.
On this site we will chronicle the adventures of UWRF undergraduates and summer students as they launch themselves into the universe of astrophysics research. Most of the work will be on IceCube but we also work on neutron monitors both at UWRF and at McMurdo station in Antarctica. Expect to read about adventures in computer programming, data mining, escaping small town Wisconsin and Minnesota, nerdy science boot camps, travels to Antarctica, summers in Europe, and all the fun stuff that happens when little people try to push back the frontiers fundamental research.