JHU Abstract 2014-Gamma Ray Bursts

Gamma Ray Bursts


Luke Bender (Towson High School), Jeremy Smith (Hereford High School), Tyler Bradley (Towson high School), Dr. Morris Swartz (Johns Hopkins University)



The purpose of this research was to learn as much as possible about the history, cause,

and effects of gamma ray bursts as well as what they could tell us about our universe.

Gamma ray bursts are the brightest and most energetic events in the universe and occur

whenever a super massive star runs out of nuclear fuel or when 2 neutron stars orbiting

each other collide. When a super massive star explodes, the core will become a black hole

and expel energy as gamma rays in jets, and these bursts typically last from about 2

seconds to a few hundred seconds. With 2 neutron stars colliding, the burst is much

shorter, lasting a few hundred milliseconds to 2 seconds. The long gamma ray bursts are

far more common (~70%) in comparison to the short gamma ray bursts (~30%). There has

also been discovered neutron stars that have a much stronger magnetic field than normal.

These “magnetars” are hypothesized to be the cause of soft gamma ray repeaters, less

energetic gamma ray bursts are that repeatedly emitted. Gamma ray bursts typically occur

in galaxies billions of light years away, so these bursts help tell us about the early universe.

In fact, the oldest known thing in the universe was a star over 13 billion light years away that

caused a gamma ray burst. Additionally, if a super massive star were within a few

thousand light years away, then it could potentially destroy all life on Earth. In fact, it is

hypothesized that a gamma ray burst could have caused extinction before, but there is no


JHU Abstract 2014-The Physics of Medical Detection Devices, Specifically MRI

The Physics of Medical Detection Devices, Specifically MRI


Emily Larkin (Hereford High School),  Jeremy Smith (Hereford High School),  Tyler Bradley (Towson High School), Dr. Morris Swartz (Johns Hopkins University)


                 The study of medicine is applied physics. As doctors use medical devices to make diagnoses or to understand natural or manufactured biological compounds, they are fundamentally using laws and equations of physics through computer modules. One such detection device is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). I used an pNMR (pulsed Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) machine to understand how a natural and induced magnetic field can create a response in compounds that ultimately leads to an MRI scan, a three-dimensional soft-tissue image, differentiating between blood, bone, and viscera. With the pNMR and knowledge of physics, I concurred that chemical compounds with various structures react with different amplitudes of pulses to the applied field (created with an electromagnet) due to the accessibility of the nucleus given shielding created by electrons surrounding the molecules. Although the pNMR machine used lacked the computing technology of an MRI to quickly differentiate and calculate these pulses, I saw the importance of optimizing the signal. I also observed that as the delay time between the A and B pulses increases, the amplitude of the subsequent B pulse decreases in the pattern of an exponential decay. I believe this is because as the time increases, on the scale of tenths of milliseconds, the number of atoms that "spin out" of the electric field in the z axis increases, meaning that they are "relaxed" and therefore will not contribute to the amplitude of the B signal. In medicine, such technology is important as the basis of MRI scans to detect irregularities inside the body, but it also is used in the direct study of biological compounds. NMR is one of the leading devices being used to comprehend the structure of macromolecules such as proteins, oligonucleotides, and oligosaccharides. It can also be used in drug manufacture as a way to understand the structure of new drugs, and how this structure plays into their functionality in the body. Obviously, as medicine is approaching an age where diagnosis and description is based on the genome and proteome, further applications of NMR are needed to meet the demand.


JHU Abstract 2014-The Accelerated Expansion of the Universe

The Accelerated Expansion of the Universe

Derek Bierly (Hereford High School), Danny Mahoney (Hereford High School), Jeremy

Smith (Hereford High School), Tyler Bradley (Towson High School), Dr. Morris Swartz (Johns Hopkins University)


The purpose of our research was to provide evidence for the acceleration of the expansion

of the universe. We researched the work of 2011 Physics Nobel Prize recipients Dr. Adam

Riess, Dr. Saul Perlmutter, and Dr. Brian Schmidt, and attempted to replicate their

investigation of the accelerated expansion of the universe through the examination of

redshifted Type Ia supernovae. Evidence of a disconnect between the observed and

predicted distances to these supernovae supports the accelerating universe theory. We

looked up many supernovae on the Hubble Legacy Archive and attempted to get spectral

data for them. If we had more time we would have acquired these spectra, and solved for

the redshift and distance of each supernova. The theory of the accelerated expansion of

the universe necessitates the existence of dark energy, a hypothetical form of energy

believed to account for this negative vacuum pressure and make up roughly seventy

percent of the universe. The percentage of the universe that is dark energy will continue to

increase as the universe expands due to dark energy’s constant density. Researching the

accelerating expansion of the universe allows us to better understand the fate of the

universe, which could be an eventual “Freeze,” instead of The Big Crunch, which was

previously hypothesized.

SMU Abstract 2014-CRC Undetected error analysis

SMU Abstract 2014 - X-Ray Machine Project

2014 Annual Report - Hawaii

 Hawaii QuarkNet activities -- Oct. 2013 to Aug. 2014

The major event in the past year was the CMS Masterclass at Punahou on 8 March 2014.  The Cosmic Ray Day at BYU-Hawaii on 7 Sept. 2013 was described in last year's report. Photos from these events are at http://www.phys.hawaii.edu/~quarknet/.

The CMS Masterclass at Punahou on 8 March was organized by Tiffany Coke. The agenda is at 
The morning introduction included an icebreaker activity to generate questions about particle physics.  There was a brief introduction
to bubble chamber photos and a visit to the QuarkNet cosmic ray detector described by Hanno Adams.  A total of 32 students
participated -- 19 from Punahou, 6 from Mid-Pacific Inst., 2 from La Pietra, and 5 8th-graders from Niu Valley Middle School.

After the group returned from the visit to the cosmic ray detector, the trailer from the documentary "Particle Fever"
was shown.  Veronica Bindi and Jason Kumar from UH Manoa described their research.  The main presentation about the LHC was given
by Mani Tripathi from UC Davis who works on the CMS experiment. (Jason had arranged Mani's visit as part of his outreach activity.)
Students then had a chance to ask their questions before lunch.

After lunch and informal discussions between students and physicists, Tiffany introduced the data analysis.  The 32 students divided
into 14 groups to examine events with frequent questions and help from physicists.  Three groups analyzed more than 40 events but most
did 15-30.  Four groups did fewer than 10.  It seems that more practice analyzing events and with the spreadsheet was needed
for many students.  The day ended with discussion of the mass plot.

The following Friday afternoon, 14 March, students came after school for the videoconference with students in Shanghai,
China.  The students enjoyed comparison of mass plots and asking questions of the other group.  Overall, the event was a success.

Two teachers had students use e-Lab data and make posters. Duc Ong's students uploaded 14 posters.  Five were nearly
empty trials.  About half of the completed ones involved flux analyses and the rest had lifetime or shower analyses.
Peter Grach's students uploaded 32 posters this year.  This is the 3rd year that his students have made posters.  Nearly
all involved flux analyses.  Five looked for correlations between flux and solar flares.  Peter made a presentation about this year's posters at our 10 May meeting.

The agenda for the 10 May meeting follows.  For the first time we used Vidyo so that Keith Imada could participate from Maui
and Dave Trapp from Washington.  The 3-5 June dates for a cosmic ray detector were feasible for Punahou but only three
teachers would have attended so it was decided to look for alternatives.

                       Hawaii QuarkNet Meeting
                       Saturday  10 May 2014
                            0900 - 1200
                       UH Manoa, Watanabe 217

QuarkNet teachers:

  Most people who responded can meet on 10 May.  This meeting
will focus on student projects and plans for the summer and
upcoming academic year.

  The tentative agenda is below.

 Higgs & Particle Fever -- Jason

 projects at Kamehameha -- Peter

 projects & plans at Punahou --  Hanno
  CMS Masterclass in 2015 :  how to improve?
  2014 students : 19 Punahou, 6 MPI, 5 Niu Valley MS, 2 La Pietra

 projects & plans using Maui data -- Keith

 data/plans from the detector at BYU-Hawaii -- Mike Weber & Selene
  peculiarity on 19 April

 data/plans from the Windward CC detector -- Mike
  flux increase & PMT 1 increase of 20 V on 7 Feb.

 prospects for projects at Maryknoll -- Gene

 news from QuarkNet -- Dave

 future Cosmic Ray Day events?  how to get more students?

 possible workshop dates
   From: Robert S. Peterson <rspete@fnal.gov>
   Subject: Re: QuarkNet: floating a workshop idea

   well, the summer has become chocker-block, but we might be able to
   shoe-horn in some dates.

   try these:         more problematic, with no promises:
   3-5 Jun            15-17 Jul
   22-24 Jul          10-12 Jun
   19-21 Aug

U Cincinnati Abstract 2014 - Large Hadron Collider beauty Particle Analysis

T. Baker, K. Debry, B. Shen, R. Swertfeger
D. Whittington (Fairfield High School)
M.Sokoloff (University of Cincinnati)

The purpose of our research was to identify signal and background ranges of particle masses in high energy decays from the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb), and to compare these masses to those recorded by the Particle Data Group (PDG) in order to confirm particle identification. We studied Ωb- to J/Ψ Ω- , Ωb- to Ξ- D0, and  Ξb0 to J/Ψ Ξ0(1530) decay channels by plotting particle properties such as momentum, probability of particle, lifetime, energy, mass, and invariant mass using 1D and 2D histograms. We used a linux terminal and ROOT program to write code in C++ that enabled us to graph and manipulate the large amount of data we were given. We applied many cuts on variables such as decay time and mass, fit the peaks with a gaussian fit, and compared the peaks to the mass values given by PDG. Our Ωb- mass was slightly different from that of LHCb’s recent studies, and should be further explored. We searched for but did not find the Ξb0 to J/Ψ Ξ0(1530) decay  through invariant mass plots. Additional research should be done to search for evidence of the  Ξb0 to J/Ψ Ξ0(1530) decay, and to verify the mass of Ωb- .

U Cincinnati Abstract 2014 - Analysis of Particle Measurements from Large Hadron Collider

T. Baker, K. Debry, B. Shen,  R. Swertfeger
D. Whittington (Fairfield High School)
M. Sokoloff (University of Cincinnati)


The purpose of our research was to identify the signal and background regions in particle decay patterns and compare the measurements that to those listed in the Particle Data Group (PDG)  in order to verify the particles’ identification. We analyzed Ξ-b , Ξb0 , and Ωb-   decay channels by graphing the measurements such as invariant mass in one and two dimensional histograms while attempting to increase the clarity of the signal region by making “cuts” on the data through other measurements of the particle such as the lifetime, energy, and momentum of the particle decay. After making various cuts on the particle masses, we attempt to “fit” the peaks to a gaussian function to determine the most common masses. Comparing the masses to those on PDG, we are able to verify whether the unknown peaks are legitimate or inconclusive. By plotting Ξ-b mass, the histogram illustrated that the mass identified in the data (~5797 MeV) differed from that of the PDG mass (5791.1 ±2.2 MeV), alluding to a possible bias in the detector. In the Ξbdecay channel we were able to confirm that  Ξb0  does indeed decay into Ξ- π+J/Ψ by constructing invariant mass plot and isolating a strong signal at 5788 MeV, which is the mass of the parent particle Ξb0 . Furthermore, there appears to be a strong signal peak at ~3450 MeV in the Ξb0 decay; in the quest to determine this unknown signal, we compared the peak to a similar decay, that of Ξ-b . Alas, the the peak found at 3450 MeV was not a part of the Ξ-b. Further research may be done to to determine unknown peak at 3450 MeV along with the mass of Ωbparticle. Additional data and effective cuts must be applied to find a more consistent mass. 

2014 Annual Report - UIC-CSU

2014 Annual Report - University of Kansas

University of Kansas QuarkNet Center

Summer 2014 annual report

            The two main activities of the University of Kansas QuarkNet center for the 2013-14 academic year were the summer research program for high school students, conducted May 27 through July 18, 2014 and a four-day workshop for physics teachers held June 10 through 13, 2014.

            Prof. Phil Baringer and Prof. Dave Besson served as mentors and organizers of the summer research program. Prof. Alice Bean also assisted with providing and supervising student projects. Jim Deane of Ottawa High School, Ottawa, Kansas, returned for his second year as our research teacher. Postdoc Jordan Hanson and graduate student Steven Prohira played important roles in supervising student projects.

           Thirteen high school researchers were taken on for the seven-week research program. We interviewed applicants for the student positions in mid-May and accepted 13 outstanding students for the program. Our research students for summer 2013 were: Ryan Alverez, Taber Fischer, Eilish Gibson, Hannah Gibson, Rachel Green, Ashley Hutton, Jason Irwin, Christoph Kinzel, Laura Neilsen, Kaustubb Nimkar, Conner Sabbert, Tara Sacerdote and Killashandra Scheuring.  Only one student (Eilish Gibson) had been in the program previous summers. A meeting with all of the students was held on May 27 where we administered the pre-test and matched students with projects. This summer’s projects were:  CMS data simulations of single top quark production, surface propagation of radio waves, radio detection of meteors, Quarked! game development (see www.quarked.org),  and using Arduino mini-computers to create interactive demonstrations.

            Eleven of the students took a field trip to Chicago July 7 through 10. Research teacher Deane and graduate student Steven Prohira led the two-van caravan from Kansas to Illinois. July 8 was spent touring Fermilab and July 9 was devoted to touring Chicago, particularly the Museum of Science and Industry.

            While at KU, the research students typically worked 20 hours per week on their projects with their groups and their project supervisor. Each Friday the group as a whole met for a pizza lunch and for talks about physics. These talks included introductory presentations on particle physics and a discussion of the recent BICEP2 finding on inflationary cosmology. On July 18, the student research teams gave presentations of their results during a special two-hour pizza lunch session. Post-tests and surveys were given after the presentations. A group photo was taken by department photographer Kim Hubbel after our final meeting, showing twelve of the thirteen students and mentors Baringer, Deane, Hanson and Prohira. (Photo can be seen in attached pdf version of this report.)

            The summer 2014 workshop for area high school physics teachers had two parts. The first three days of the workshop were focused on cosmic ray detectors and investigations that can be done with them. This part of the workshop was led by Bob Peterson from Fermilab who had the teachers assemble detectors, gather and analyze cosmic ray data using hardware and software developed by QuarkNet. On Thursday, June 12, the teachers gave presentations on their work. The last day of the workshop was led by center mentor Baringer who led a discussion of physics teaching resources for active classroom learning. This last day was a follow-up to last summer’s workshop. Five teachers attended the cosmic ray workshop and two additional teachers attended the last day (they unfortunately had scheduling conflicts earlier that week).


Addendum: Agenda for last day of teacher workshop

QuarkNet Workshop

Friday, June 13, 2014

Room 6051 Malott


9:00-10:00 Introductory Physics course reform at KU—presentation by Phil Baringer

10:00-10:15 Break

10:30-11:45 Online resources—group discussion

11:45-1:30 (in 3005 Malott) Pizza lunch; presentation on “Particle Accelerators in Nature” by Prof. Tom Cravens; discussion with QuarkNet summer research students

1:30-4:00 Group discussion on effective group problem solving exercises, clicker questions, and other interactive in-class learning strategies