Florida Tech Dazzles with Cosmic Ray Collection

– Florida Tech, one of 40 institutions contributing to the national QuarkNet physics outreach program, collected more data than any other QuarkNet group.
The amount Florida Tech gathered is two times more data than the center collecting the second largest sample.

Eight area high school physics teachers and four high school students, from Melbourne High School, St. Edwards High School in Vero Beach, Astronaut High
School in Titusville, and other schools, participated in the one-week summer workshop. It was led by Dr. Marcus Hohlmann, Florida Tech assistant professor
and particle physicist. Hohlmann received a $14,800 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to participate in the hands-on physics program. That brings NSF
grants to the Florida Tech QuarkNet program to a total of $50,000 so far.

To gather the data, that is, to detect subatomic particles, the team set up detectors-built by teachers at previous Florida Tech workshops-in the F.W. Olin
Physical Science Building. The detectors produce brief light flashes of 20 to 30 nanoseconds duration every time a subatomic particle passes through. In
this case, the particles of interest were muons. These are more massive relatives of the familiar electron.

The team, which collected data for a total of six weeks, uploaded their 45 million muon events to a data server managed by the University of Chicago and by
Fermilab near Chicago, which hosts the program’s headquarters. The server allows interactive analysis of the data via a web portal.

QuarkNet was initiated to inspire young people to pursue fundamental physics. The program gives students and teachers opportunities for hands-on experience
in particle physics with modern experimental research techniques and sophisticated equipment.

Two of the QuarkNet summer students enrolled as Florida Tech freshmen this fall. They are physics major Nick Leiotts and business major Parisa Rassoul.
Jeff Pesula, who teaches physics at Sebastian River High School, also is enrolled in a Florida Tech physics graduate program.

Among the colleges and universities participating in the QuarkNet project are Vanderbilt, Rice and Brandeis universities and the University of Houston. For
more information, visit http://www.fit.edu/pss-quarknet.

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