The Effect of Angle of Elevation on Muon Flux

Sudheshna Gullanki (Troy High School) and Tanner Allen (Paul K Cousino High School)

Teacher Mentor: Mike Niedballa (Michigan Collegiate High SChool)

Research Mentor: Gil Piz (Wayne State University)


The purpose of our research is to study and experiment the correlation between the angle of the cosmic ray detectors and the count of incoming muons. We believe that the more perpendicular the stacked detectors are to the earth, the more muons will be detected, inversely the more horizontal the stacked detectors are to the earth the less muons will be detected.


We tried to keep the data as accurate as possible. We collected data more approximately eight hours for each angle of elevation. We never never changed the position of the placement of the detectors. We also used many different kinds of graphs to prove our experiment correct. We made a flux study to compare results between the detectors. A box plot was made to show a standardized way of displaying our results of minimum, first quartile, median, third quartile, and maximum. Then we conducted an ANOVA test to statistically analyze the difference between data. Lastly we also mathematically verified our experiment’s validity using a unique theoretical equation for predicting muon flux at a given angle of elevation written from scratch.


Our hypothesis was accepted. We hypothesized that angles of elevation closer to vertical would have higher rates of directional muon flux, and they did. However, why does this work? Muons are typically formed by cosmic ray collisions with particles in the atmosphere about 10-15km from the Earth's surface. Since they are traveling so quickly (.98c), Einstein's principles of relativity allow them to reach the surface of the Earth in relatively large numbers; almost 4.9% of muons at that altitude and that speed reach the surface of the Earth before decaying. However, when the angle of elevation shifts away from vertical, the distance muons must travel to reach the surface from any given altitude increases exponentially. For example, if all muons in a given trial decayed at 15 km, vertically aligned muons would only travel through 15 km of atmosphere and reach the Earth only a couple units of mean lifetime later, whereas muons traveling from the horizon have to cross almost 450 km of atmosphere before reaching the detectors, spending about 130 mean lifetimes.

Shower Studies

Frank Vella (Western International High School)

Rumana Begum (Hamtramck High School)

Mike Niedballa (Michigan Collegiate High School)

Dr. Gil Paz (Wayne State University)

1 July 2016

            Our project was based on shower studies. The purpose of our project was to find the most efficient way to detect cosmic ray shower events. Our first method was setting our detectors 4 meters apart. This is the format that we believe to capture the least amount of events in the highest amount of time.  After that, we set our detectors into what would be our smallest area, only 0.3 meters apart, the format we believe to be the most efficient. Then we enlarged the area by 1.4 meters. At last, we increased the area once more. We set each paddle 2.4 meters apart. Our hypothesis was correct! Indeed, the smallest format detected the highest amount of events in the shortest amount of time. The smallest area detected 373 events in approximately 4.85 hours while the large took 64.63 hours. The paddles that were set 1.7 and 2.4 meters apart detected 373 events in 30 hours and 58.5 hours. By learning this, we now know the most efficient format to perform a shower study.

2016 Abstract from Ryan

Waves to Ones and Zeros:   Data Acquisition in Radio Astronomy 
  Ryan Thornton (Marmion Academy)  Dr. Christopher Stoughton (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) 
  Abstract    I designed the data recording and analysis of the QuarkNet Radio Telescope, a telescope  designed measure hydrogen’s emission of radio waves of around twenty­one centimeters.  The  telescope is meant to map the hydrogen in the arms of the Milky Way galaxy, and is composed  of a two­meter disk, a feed horn configured to twenty­one centimeter waves, an Airspy receiver  to collect the data and send it to the Raspberry Pi, two linear actuators to rotate the dish, and a  Raspberry Pi 3 to control the Airspy and motors and to record data.  We intend the QuarkNet  Radio Telescope to be inexpensive enough for enterprising high school teams to repeat the  procedures and build a telescope.  I created modules in the GNU Radio program with the programing language Python to average  data using the Welch method and record the data to hdf5 files.  To store the data, I set up a  data storage system to transfer data from the Raspberry Pi 3 to the virtual server acting as a  control and storage system.  I then created the data analysis program using Python to display  the data in a waterfall plot format.  

2016 Abstract from Pranav

Big Data Analytics for Identification of Gravitationally Lensed Quasars in the Dark Energy Survey 
Pranav Sivakumar, Brian Nord, Liz Buckley-Geer  
We report results from an automated method to identify lensed quasars from the Dark Energy 
Survey using a PSF-difference-based algorithm aimed at identifying close-separation lens 
candidates. The PSF-difference algorithm utilizes the difference between PSF magnitude and 
model magnitude, as well as image segmentation, to deblend and identify close-separation 
candidates. In total, the algorithms identified 156 final lens candidates and also identified a 
number of known lensed quasars within the DES footprint, indicating that the method described 
in this paper is effective in identifying candidate lensed quasars. Efforts to obtain follow-up 
observations for confirmation of the final candidates are ongoing, and constraints on 
cosmological parameters will be discussed in future papers. 

2016 Abstract from Keshav

art ​  Visualization Using ParaView    Keshav Kapoor (Naperville Central High School)   ​Dr. Adam Lyon (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory)   
  The purpose of this project is to create a real time visualization of the data that is produced from  the ​art ​  event framework created by the Fermilab Scientific Computing division. to check the  geometry of the experiment as well as preparing ​art ​  to be used with High Performance  Computing (HPC). To accomplish this task we will be using a visualization tool called ParaView  which was created by Kitware, Los Alamos National Lab, and Sandia National Lab. We already  have a pipeline between the ​art  ​ framework and paraview which allows us to display simple  objects as they are created. This pipeline was written in python and I will be converting it into  C++ as to keep it constant with the rest of the ​art ​  framework. This will hopefully give  experiments a tool they can use to check their reconstruction algorithms and detector designs.

2016 Abstract from George

Muon Beam Storage Magnet B Field Shaping 

  George Ressinger (St. Charles North High School)

  Dr. Brendan Kiburg (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) 


The Muon G­2 Experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is an attempt to measure an anomaly in the magnetic moment of the Muon to new levels of accuracy. It seeks to test the finer predictions of the Standard Model by measuring the contributions of QED, and hadronic and weak interactions to the anomaly. Current efforts revolve around shaping and mapping the magnetic field. This will decrease the deviation in measured positron energy, increasing the accuracy of the calculated anomaly well past that of the Brookhaven National Lab experiment (.7 ppm), to 140 ppb. This accuracy will allow for detailed calculations of effects on the muon not predicted by SM theories, prompting research into hitherto unknown physics.  

2016 Abstract from Gabriel

Design and Modeling of Dark Matter  Axion Detectors    Gabriel Rizzo (Oak Park and River Forest High School)   ​Dr. Andrew Sonnenschein (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory)   
Abstract    Axions are a proposed cold dark matter particle. They are very light (10​­5 to 10​­3 ​eV) and                                   decompose into microwave photons in a strong magnetic field (Axion). The goal of the Axion                               Dark Matter eXperiment (ADMX) is to detect these microwave photons and use their energy to                               calculate the mass of the axion. Fermilab’s R&D program for ADMX is focused on making                               higher frequency cavities to scan for heavier axions.  

2016 Abstract from Collin

Digital Design for Astrophysics  Detectors    Collin Bradford (Homeschool Student)   ​Dr. Chris Stoughton (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory)   
Abstract    Sensors in particle detectors​ often have to sample at a rate that far outpaces typical computers  today.  One of the solutions for this is to use FPGAs or Field Programmable Gate Arrays to  process and condense the signals from the sensors before sending the result to a computer for  storage and further processing.     This paper reports on the project to​ design a data acquisition system to be used for the Nano  Cam project.  This project uses a phototube attached to a telescope to precisely measure the  photons coming from a star.  The FPGA, or Field Programmable Gate Array, will take the output  from the phototube and process it, looking for spikes in the signal that denote a pulse.     The primary target for this experiment, the Crab Pulsar, is a neutron star that is an estimated 20  Km in diameter.  (​Crab Pulsar. n.d.)​  In addition to the regular pulses that happen at 30 Hz,  there is an extremely fast pulse that happens randomly every few hours.  The pulse comes from  a part of the star about the size of a classroom and it pulses with the intensity of the sun.  By  measuring the star with the phototube, we hope to see if the intensity change is in the visible  light spectrum.

2016 Abstract from Ben

Quarknet Radio Telescope: The  mechanization to track celestial objects 
  Ben Hardin (Batavia High School) 
 ​ Dr. Adam Anderson (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory)   
  The purpose of this experiment is to get high school students around the Fermilab area  involved in science. The experiment involves building a radio telescope and measuring at the  21cm hydrogen line. The experiment will then be passed on to high schools around the U.S.  once the initial team is done with the building and getting everything ready. This will allow others  to set up an interferometry of radio telescopes to better observe the Milky Way.     This paper reports on the project to motorize the dish so we can track celestial objects,  and aim at objects in the sky. Using two linear actuators controlled by a relay connected to a  raspberry pi, powered by python code.  

2016 Abstract from Amira

Creating a Runs Database Under MIDAS  and MySQL 
   Amira Malik   Dr. Mandy Rominsky    
At the Fermilab Test Beam facility, scientists test their equipment against the provided  test beams. Since the equipment needs to be accurately tested, the parameters of the beam  used must be documented extensively. The Test Beam Facility has a data acquisition system  that can record the nature of each beam. However, the state of the beam and facility  instruments needs to be recalled at a later time during analysis. . In order to recall the  conditions,  Test Beam Facility needs a runs database: a way to store and recall information by  assigning tags or descriptors to each run.  During the summer, I was tasked with learning about data acquisition and recollection in  order to set up a runs database. I had to learn the coding language SQL and how to use  applications like MIDAS and MySQL as well as how the two programs interact with each other.  In the following paper I discuss the concepts of how data is acquired, how databases store and  recall information, and how MySQL and MIDAS interface with each other.