Two students from Perryville High School in Maryland, Claire Hudson and Jackie von Staden, said the experience was enlightening.
"We're both taking advanced placement physics, but we wanted a
further understanding," Jackie said. "We never got this far in physics.
It has been like a new world."
In this world -- particle astrophysics -- scientists analyze data
from outside our galaxy, light years away, reflecting realities neither
they nor any other human being has seen up close.
Neutrinos are everywhere in the universe but because they have almost
no mass and no electrical charge they are difficult to detect. They are
created by the sun and other stars and by collisions of cosmic rays.
IceCube, completed at the end of 2010, detects the bursts of light
created when neutrinos collide with particles in the ice.
The observatory has detected hundreds of thousands of neutrinos, but
only a fraction of them are the kind astronomers are most interested in
-- those arriving from outside of our solar system.
"We hope to understand the structure of the universe better," Gaisser said. "We don't always know how it will pay off, but the more we know the better we're able to build a strong economy and a strong society."
It was more than a century, for example, between Benjamin Franklin's
electricity experiments with a kite (1752) and Thomas Edison's invention
of the first successful light bulb (1879).
John Jochum, who teaches physics and chemistry at Delmarva Christian
High School in Georgetown, Delaware, said the event was important for
his students -- and he found it fascinating, too. An analogy with a cue
ball and how it interacts during a game of pool helped him grasp another
angle of particle physics.
"I wanted to expose them to university-level research," he said.
"I've been teaching for 24 years, but you always learn stuff. You get a
concept and you better understand gamma rays, cosmic rays, the solar
wind, particle showers. I like to see the big picture, and this helped
me see it."
Schools represented included Caravel Academy, Delaware Military
Academy, Delmarva Christian High School, Newark High School, Perryville
High School, Sanford School.
In addition to UD, classes also were held at these institutions:
• Belgium: Universiteit Gent; Université Libre de Bruxelles; Vrije Universiteit Brussels
• Denmark: University of Copenhagen
• Germany: Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron in Zeuthen;
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg; RWTH Aachen
University; Universität Münster
• USA: Ohio State University in Columbus; Stony Brook (New
York) University; University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa; University of
Rochester (New York); University of Wisconsin-River Falls; University of
Article by Beth Miller; photos by Evan Krape