Vanderbilt Quarknet 2012

Monday July 9 - Friday July 13

Monday - Wednesday we will meet at Vanderbilt to discuss neutrino speeds, the Higgs, gravity, and the use of our counters. Thursday and Friday we will travel to Louisiana to see LIGO, home of the effort to detect gravitational waves. Our meetings will start at 9 in the physics wing of the Stevenson Science center, room SC 6322. Coffee and informal conversation preceeding our meetings, 8:30 to 9. Power point files and some great pictures of our group at the LIGO lab are still being assembled for display here.

2012 Program

Neutrinos MAY have been caught violating the Einstein speed limit. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN continues to produce collisions at the highest energies ever studied in detail. The Higgs has not shown up convincingly in any of the reports despite a well focused program of searching in many of its expected decay modes. The Higgs mechanism is so elegant that it seemed it must be true, but we begin to hear rumors that perhaps Nature picked a different, as yet unknown, mechanism for endowing particles with mass. We certainly will bring our Quarknet Teachers up to date on these developments, and review the use of our muon counters.

Our in depth topic for our meeting this summer will be gravity - from why moons and planets stay in orbit to the need for Dark Matter to account for the speeds of stars as they go around the Milky Way. By the way, those speeds are what we measured on our trip to Green Bank a couple of years ago. We have been funded for the trip to LIGO in Louisiana so that we can see attempts to detect the most speculative aspect of gravity, gravitational waves.

We have three Cosmic Ray Detector units ready for your students to use. Brenda, Aimee, and Scott used counters this past year. We used the first telescope, with the small detectors, for our work with University School of Nashville students measuring the speed of cosmic ray muons. The card and GPS on that counter have since been replaced so data from our original telescope can now be submitted to the Quarknet analysis site. We are approved to receive a fourth counter this summer and are working to get it scheduled before our VU meeting.

The American Physical Society is celebrating the hundreth anniversary of the discovery of cosmic rays and Bill Gabella presented a paper on the student interest in their mesurements of the speed of cosmic rays at the meeting in Atlanta on March 31.