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Cosmic Ray/Ligo Workshop 2017

UW QuarkNet Cosmic Ray/LIGO workshop August 14-18 2017 

 Welcome to the exciting summer workshop at the UW to learn about the exciting fields of gravitational wave and cosmic rays physics!  

  • Location: University of Washington​ ​
    Physics and Astronomy Building (PAB B248) [map][travel]​​
  • Parking:​ CENTRAL PLAZA GARAGE, LEVELS C2-C5​ (note: The physics building is due south of the parking garage. The closest parking will be on the lowest level, C5, and will be near the exit ramp. Tell the attendant that you are in the QuarkNet Workshop.
  • Required Equipment: Each group (two people) needs one laptop (MacOS preferred/Windows is​ fine)
  • Stipends: ​$100/day for teachers and $64/day for students. 
​This is a five-day workshop, split into two parts. 

Part 1: The first two days of this workshop (for teachers only) will be dedicated to the topic of gravitational waves​ and the LIGO experiment. ​ ​

  • Leader: Shane Wood
  • ​​Mentors: Prof. Shih-Chieh Hsu, Dr. Michael Park
  • Participants: ​Jim Landon (Meadowdale), Tseveldorj Oyuntugs (Stadium),  Karl Englert (Nathan Hale).
  • Gravitational waves are literal “ripples” in the fabric of space and time itself. In one of the most incredible scientific discoveries of this century, these ripples were directly measured for the first time on 9/14/2016 by physicists working on the LIGO experiment. Join in on the excitement by working with physicists at UW to learn more about how these ripples were measured, and the many amazing new insights about our universe that are expected to come as this technology matures. 
  • This LIGO workshop will teach participants how to use friendly and intuitive e-Lab tool, developed by QuarkNet to analyze actual data collected by LIGO. Since the LIGO experiment is extremely sensitive to changes in distance, one of the major technical challenges involves The e-Lab provides an online environment in which participants experience the excitement of scientific collaboration by investigating seismic behavior. Seismic energy from earthquakes, wind, ocean waves and human activity will become visible and meaningful as participants plot data from seismometers at LIGO Hanford Observatory in the Washington state, which discovered Gravitational Wave in 2015. Shane Wood from the Minnesota Quarknet Center will lead the activities to analyze LIGO e-Lab data.​​

Activity Timetable:

Part 2: The following three days of this workshop (for teachers and students) will be dedicated to the topic of cosmic rays, and how they will be affected by the upcoming solar eclipse 

  • Leader: Kenneth Cecire (FNAL) 
  • ​​Mentors: Prof. Shih-Chieh Hsu, Dr. Michael Park
  • Support QuarkNet Fellows: Rose Emanuel (Fort Vancouver), David Trapp
  • Invited Speakers: Prof R. Jeff Wilkes
  • Teacher Participants: ​Karl Englert (Nathan Hale), Jim Landon (Meadowdale), Tseveldorj Oyuntugs (Stadium)
  • Student Participants: Sophie Bell (Nathan Hale), Gabriel Rude (Nathan Hale), Aditya Kannan (Interlake)
  • On 6/21/2017, a full solar eclipse will traverse the entire North American continent. In addition to being a spectacular observational event, it also presents the opportunity to explore the fascinating topic of cosmic rays, which are created when energetic particles from space collide with our atmosphere. The cosmic ray workshop will train participants on using QuarkNet's cosmic ray muon detector (CRMD). The eLab provides an online environment in which students, working in a research group, experience the environment of scientific collaborations in a series of investigations into high-energy cosmic rays.
  • The cosmic ray activity will be open to both teachers and students. It's dedicated to the Cosmic Ray Detector and e-Lab. In particular, we will prepare for the Solar Eclipse Cosmic Ray measurement in Aug 21. These detectors are new to UW and are not made with CASA ( yellow scintillator) components. The e-Lab is where the cosmic ray data is uploaded and stored and from which data analysis will be performed on your collected data. This does not use LabView nor the UW generated analysis tools as was the case for the previous WALTA detectors. Kenneth Cecire  from FNAL will lead you in the building and standing up the new detectors. You will also plateau ( optimize) the detector and use the data for analysis. You will even be able to construct an online poster! From​ start to finish this is a teacher-guided and student-led project. Each teacher may bring up to 4 students to join the program. This year we can support 6 teachers and 12 students

​​Activity Timetable:  


Workshop Documents and Lin​ks


Introduction to Cosmic Rays

LIGO e-Lab

Reference Materials

  • Workshop preparation for mentors and teachers [doc]
  • CRMD overview [ppt] by Bob Peterson

  • Galactic and extra-galactic cosmic rays and detectors [pdf] by Prof. Jeff Wilkes (Aug 16, 2016)
  • Cosmic Ray Muon Detector manual [pdf​] by Chunyang Ding

Solar Eclipse Cosmic Ray measurements 

Nate Unterman ( and Mark Adams ( proposed an exciting  QuarkNet project to measure Sun's contribution to cosmic rays on the earth's surface during America’s Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017. It requires to setup a detector during the moon’s transit across the sun to record muon trajectories during the three-hour eclipse, rain or shine. More details could be found in this  document  EclipseCosmicRayProject-short.docx.

It's a close-to-full  (~95%) Solar Eclipse in Seattle. The event starts from 9:08am to 11:40am on Aug 21, 2017. ( ). Kevin Wheeler is planning on performing this experiment in Portland where you can get 100% Solar Eclipse. Feel free to contact him to join this experiment. ​

Other Resources