LBL Abstract 2014 - Cosmic Ray Detector Experiments

                          Cosmic Ray Detector Experiments      LBL 2014


Student                                 High School

Emad Abid


Harrison Brown


Melissa Cabrera

San Leandro

Jorge Camarena

Lighthouse Charter

Leslie Castro


Tiffany Chong

San Leandro

Skyler Chu


Derek Cross

Monte Vista

Nathaniel Diamant


Yong Li Dich

San Leandro

Daniel Erenstein


Charis (ChuHui)  Fu


Alexandra Gladchenko


Dory Grobeck


Reana Henson

San Leandro

Dante Hong)


Allen Hosler


Angie Huynh

Bear Creek

Shoyo Inokuchi

Castro Valley

David Jiang


Kimberly Loo

Mercy SF

Reina Lowe


Julia Machol


Austin Maciey


Yash Maniyar


Michael Moncton


Annie Nguyen

Bear Creek

Golden Nguyen

Bear Creek

Aakash Parikh


Giorgia Peckman

Ruth Awsawa

Parker Phillips


Alex (Alfeado) Porras


Maddy Sereno


Muhammad Shaikh

S.F. International School

Henry Sun

California HS

Malik Sy

Bay School SF

Preston Tso


John Viernes

Ruth Awsawa

Angela Wong

Castro Valley

Daniel Zander


Tiffany Zhou



Teacher                        High School

Ray Adams


Miles Chen

Bay School SF

Craig Eldred

Terra Linda

Sean Fottrell

Castro Valley

Burke Green


Laura Guthrie


Jane Kelson


Bryan Marten


Glen Melnik


Richard Piccioni

Bay School SF

Theresa Summer

Woodside International

Amber Zertuche





Purpose –The purpose of this experiment was for students to have hands on experience collecting & interpreting data from muon detectors. All students have had no previous experience using detectors. These detectors were supplied by Howard Matis of LBL.


Methods – After learning how to operate the detector, each of the 10 teams composed of 4 students, 1 teacher & a detector, choose one of the following investigations to determine the rate of flux of muon counts :

  1. Tilting the detector between 0 and 90 degrees from the horizontal.
  2. Shielding the detector with books, brass, water.
  3. Changes in elevation of the detector over a distance of 5 floors.
  4. Changing the east west orientation of the detector to determine if the collection were muons or antimuons due to right hand rule of electromagnetism.
  5. Showing the angle of scattering by separating the paddles on a gamma source.  This was done by using a particle detector that was made at LBNL through QuarkNet over the last 8 years.


Results  - After collecting data groups returned to the large group to report.

                   Each group gave a presentation of their experimental design & results.

                   The findings are as follows:

  1. The data showed the greater the tilt, the lower the flux & at 90 there were almost no counts.
  2. There was no difference in flux with most of the materials we were able to use.
  3. Groups did find a difference between the basement of the building & the fifth floor.  With the lower locations showing smaller rate of flux.  With group discussion it was determined this was due more to the buildings shielding effect than the small altitude difference.  However we can’t rule out the elevation difference entirely since one group collected data outside underneath a balcony minimizing the shielding .
  4. There were 88 more antimuons than muons out of a total count of 1000. A student in the group clearly explained the set up, execution, & physics rules that explained this.
  5. The group discovered that if the paddles were not in line at 180 degrees, the count falls off. There was much discussion regarding this experiment regarding the nature of the production of gamma rays.



Meaning & future investigations - Cosmic rays have played a large role in the development of Particle Physics.  The muon as well as antimatter were first detected by cosmic ray investigations.

This activity gave the students a first-hand experience in understanding & working with particles. Working with detectors also helped the students understand the collection of cosmic rays on much larger scales such as in ICECUBE.

Further investigations could include different shielding materials.

U Cincinnati Abstracts 2013, Three abstracts

PDF of three abstracts

University of Cincinnati QuarkNet Center


Improving the significance of Ξ0 signal by making quality cuts to π daughters

David Caggiano (Anderson High School), Evan Cornuelle (Turpin High School),

Elizabeth Eadie (Summit Country Day School) and Brianna Poll (McAuley High School)

John-Paul Gates (Springboro High School) and Mike Sokoloff (University of Cincinnati)

The purpose of our research was to study XiC0 (Ξ0 → Ξπ+; Ξ→ Λπ; Λ → πp) using the data from LHCb experiment at CERN. The first thing we did was to add cuts to the daughter particles. After the signal was improved slightly with the first daughters, the other daughters were added one by one as well as other cuts. This process was repeated until reaching the parent particle. While adding cuts to the daughters, we had a pass graph, which represents the entries that passed the cuts stated, and a fail graph, for the entries that failed one or more of the cuts. After improving the signal, we tried a single Gaussian fit. Once the residuals of the fit were reasonable, we inserted a table that represented the sigma value, which was 8.4 ± 0.7 for the XiC0. We repeated this process with the OmegaC0 (Ω0 → Ωπ+; Ω→ ΛK; Λ → πp), and got a reasonable signal. We then attempted the decay chain of OmegaC+ (Ω+ → ΩK+π+; Ω → ΛK;Λ → πp), but there was no noticeable peak and the cuts used did not help to reveal one.


Improving the significance of - mass plot by making quality cuts to π daughters

Evan Cornuelle (Turpin High School)

John-Paul Gates (Springboro High School) and Mike Sokoloff (University of Cincinnati)

The purpose of our research is to improve the signal to background ratio of the Ξ+ → Ξππ;
Ξ → Λπ Λ → pπ. All of the data is from experiments conducted at the LHCb in CERN. The procedure in use to achieve this goal, starting from the last decay in the cascade, is to make selection on the mass distribution entries until the signal is visible above the background. Then move to the parent particle and repeat up the decay chain. Selections used in the study include probabilities that a track is electronic noise, lifetime, particle identification, position, mass, and corrected mass. Certain selections are used at different stages in the decay chain resulting in an Ξ+ mass measurement of 2468.84 ± 0.12 MeV / c2, a sigma of 6.3 ± 0.1 /c2 and signal entries of 7181 ± 129. Results of the Ξ+ are used to look at the Ξ0 particle; this is inconclusive, as there is not a signal in the analyzed data. A further study on the Ξ+ would include analysis on the systematics that are involved with this mass study. A further study involving the Ξ0 would be useful given that more data is used in the mass study.


Improving the significance of Ξ+ mass plot by making quality cuts to &pi daughters

David Caggiano (Anderson High School), Evan Cornuelle (Turpin High School) and

Elizabeth Eadie (Summit Country Day School)

John-Paul Gates (Springboro High School) and Mike Sokoloff (University of Cincinnati)

The purpose of our research was to study Ξ++→ Ξ π+π+; ΞΛπ; Λ → πp) using the data from LHCb experiment at CERN. Our first action was to find and apply appropriate cuts to the first daughter particles. After we improved the signal peak and eliminated portions of the background, we repeated the process to the other daughter particles. Each time we repeated this process further up the decay chain, the signal improved more and more. In addition to having a histogram of the data that passed the cuts, we also had one containing all of the failed entries. When our signal was improved and all of our cuts were made, we fitted the histogram with a single Gaussian fit. When the fit and its residuals were reasonable, we inserted a table with the sigma value, which was 6.4 ± 0.2 for the Ξ+. Our next step was to look up the decay chain one more step, and study Ξ00 → Ξ+π; Ξ+ → Ξπ+π+; Ξ ® Λπ; Λ → πp), but there was no peak and our cuts did not reveal one.





Test annual report


2013 Annual Report - Rutgers University

2013 Annual Report - SMU

Southern Methodist University – The SMU Particle Physics Group in Dedman College sponsored its annual QuarkNet activities this summer for local high school physics teachers and students. The week of August 5-9, 2013 held the workshop, an event organized annually since 2001, and new this year was a summer-long research project carried out by the students. This year there were 18 teachers and 10 students from Dallas area public and private schools.

During the workshop, teachers heard talks from SMU and UT Arlington professors on particle accelerators and detectors. Prof. Joe Izen presented by video-link from his CERN lab where his group is updating the pixel detector of the LHC. Prof. Ryszard Stroynowski gave a particle physics introduction during the CMS e-lab mini-workshop, during which QuarkNet LHC Fellow Shane Wood spend 2 days familiarizing the teachers with this source of real LHC data for use in the classroom. Teachers also constructed and tested with cosmic rays and radioactive sources their own simple cloud chamber using an upturned fish tank. They also went on a half-day field trip to the crystallography lab and radiology lab at UT Southwestern to see the medical applications of particle physics. Teachers Darren Carollo, Bruce Boehne, Valerie Thomas, and Evelyn Restivo presented on their summer research activities, and teacher Janee Hall presented on the Dark Matter research work she did with SMU Professor Jodi Cooley during the summer.

8 high school students supervised by teacher Trina Cannon spent the summer doing research in the SMU Physics Department’s Opto-Electronics lab. Working with physicists Datao Gong, Tiankuan Liu, and Chu Xiang, the students tested commercial and customized photonic components for potential use in the optical data link updates in the ATLAS LAr Calorimeter. Every week, the students participated in the lab group meeting to report on their learning and test findings. Each gave a short talk to the SMU faculty and to the QuarkNet teachers during the workshop. We expect their project results to be publishable.


The coordinator is Dr. Simon Dalley, assisted by other faculty mentors Fred Olness and Randy Scalise, and SMU physics department members Rick Guarino, Farley Ferrante, Carol Carroll, and Shirley Melton, and Michael Esailli.

Black Hills Abstract 2013 - Cosmic Ray Muon Detector and Flow Meter

Madison Jilek, Drew Powers, Christopher Randolph, Rachel Williams

Cosmic Ray Muon Detector

The purpose of having underground labs is to get away from cosmic rays, which can create unwanted or harmful backgrounds in the results of hypersensitive experiments such as LUX and Majorana which are currently underground at the 4850 ft. level at SURF. One could use the cosmic ray muon detector to detect these potentially harmful rays. Inside the detectors, there is a photomultiplier tube (PMT) mated with a scintillator and when a muon hits the scintillator it loses energy in the form of a photon due to the change in medium, which is counted by the PMT. After taking data, someone could run flux studies, and when different people compared those studies to the atmospheric pressure, it was noticed that there was a correlation between the two. When pressure was at a low, more muons passed through our detectors, and when the pressure was at a high, less muons passed through.

Flow Meter

The flow meter project is an ongoing project at the 4850 level in the Sanford Underground Research Facility. The flow meters were built to monitor the air flow, temperature, and humidity of the ventilation. Ventilation is very important in a confined space environment wherein fresh air, radon gas expulsion, and coolant are necessary to keep the environment habitable. The flow meters were constructed, using Campbell Scientific equipment, and installed using sonic anemometers to measure air speed and flow, a pressure sensor, and a relative temperature and humidity probe to monitor the underground conditions. Our data collected showed us several correlations to the regular operations of the facility, such as the Orohondo Fan. The Orohondo Fan pulls air out of the levels in the facility with also brings out excess radon gas, old air, and heat to the surface. When the fan was turned off, air flow sharply decreased from around a consistent 70000 ft. per min to around 25000 ft. per min at the 17 Ledge, and decreased from around 80000 ft. per min to around 45000 ft. per min at the 4 Winze Wye. This shows that the data can be important to the facility when emergencies occur, such as carbon monoxide or fires, to see the direction of the emergency activity, and how to resolve the problem.

2013 Annual Report - FIT

This year FIT had a new mentor, new students, and new teachers attend the annual summer workshop. Mike Green, Jessica Philips, Mark Webb, John Carlson and Karen Flickinger were the teachers that attended the summer FIT conference. Maya Burley, Natalie Barton, Nicole O’Donnell, and Ashley Beard were the students attending the conference. The teacher in charge was Michael O’Donnell from Palm Bay High.  The summer workshop ran from June 3, 2013 to July 12,  2013.

                During the first week all participants attended. Dr. Baksay gave the first talk on the History of Quarknet at FIT. The computers and equipment were all up and running prior to student/teacher arrival. Data was collected on the first day which was a great help in introducing the topic to the new teachers and new students. Later in the day, Mr. O’Donnell gave a presentation on the history of Quarknet from Perdue University. Students were able to get together and work on an activity posted on while teachers worked together to make lesson plans on particle physics.

On the second day of the workshop, Mr. O’Donnell introduced to the students and teachers the simulator on Rutherford’s experiment.  Tom Jordan was in attendance to help with the plateauing of the paddles. After lunch a presentation of lightning detection was given by Dr. Joseph Dwyer. A lot of work on the plateauing the paddles was performed over the next 3 days with both the students and the teachers. Jessica Philips found a great interactive game called Quarkle. The lesson plan on particle physics had students matching quark charges to gain points.  The remaining presentations for the student/teacher workshop were given by Joe Laub (FIT U-teach Program), Dr. Lindeman (sustainability) and Dr. Barman (Higgs Boson).

After the student teacher workshop the students remained at FIT for the next 5 weeks, collecting data, making weekly reports, research posters, and building equipment. Most projects were based on the formula Question: Are Muon counts correlated with (variable)?  Students were taught how to carry out a correlation coefficient (r-value) and its meaning. Students were instructed on how to perform a correlation coefficient on the excel spread sheet along with creating graphs for presenting data in the poster format. Brainstorming ideas on space and atmospheric conditions that might affect muon numbers was carried out. The following variables were studied by the students: Atmospheric temperature, Humidity, Barometric pressure, Ocean tides (pull of gravity), Ozone levels and Moon phases. A group project was also performed on the Effect of an electric field produced by a plasma ball near the detectors. In order to carry out this experiment, the electric field of the plasma ball had to be identified. The lab book, Fusion-Physics of Fundamental Energy sources, 2007 was used as a guide and background information about plasma balls. A faraday also had to be built to test the concepts of blocking the electric field. Since the needed equipment was readily available at a local HS, the building of the faraday cage was carried out in the Lab room of Palm Bay under Mr. O’Donnell’s supervision.

In conclusion, the students uploaded weekly reports on their projects and create Quarknet posters on each project.  The group collaborated on the large project involving the faraday cage and plasma ball. A poster on this project was also posted on quarknet on the last day, July 12, 2013. The equipment will be stored at PBHS for loan to any participant. Students were also asked to give a short presentation to their Physics or Research class in the up-coming school year. Presentation is intended to give an overview of the equipment, what particle physics is and what research was performed over the summer.