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Participating in the project

About the project "Showers of knowledge"

The project we are calling you on to participate in, is based on the interactive web portal. All the communication is taking place here. We are developing it now.

The goal of the project is the following. I am sure we can help some of our youth, interested in acquiring knowledge on particle physics, by providing the opportunity to analyze real experimental data on cosmic rays. We can check whether I am right. My experience (and I am 4 times older than most of you :-) has led me to a firm conviction that the best way to obtain knowledge is not reading manuals, but practical exercise. Obviously, learning is impossible without books, but is much more effective when reading goes together with practice — a real guide to new skills.

As far as I know, 99% of the experiments you can see on physics lessons were on the front edge of the science about a century ago. It is understandable: it is difficult to bring a particle accelerator of some other experimental setup in school. But! there is one exception — cosmic rays. All the surface of the Earth is permanently (including this very moment!) is showered with myriads of particles born by radiation from deep space. And nobody knows which new information about the Universe can cosmic rays provide us tomorrow. In my opinion, this intigue is the main charm of experimental science — and physics is a classical example of it, in contrast to, for example, mathematics or philosophy.

It would be an exaggeration to state that cosmic rays is now the most interesting branch of science. Surely not! But it is the most accessible opportunity to perform meaningful and up-to-date experimental research with clear motivation. It is much easier to understand thoroughly the problems of the cosmic ray studies than learn about such complicated topics as Standard Model or Higgs boson our group is researching at LHC at CERN.

The main focus of this project for me is its educational part. I promise that you can learn much new on physics, cosmology, mathematics, statictics, data analysis, particle detection methods, and so on using very interesting and easily undestandable new experimental data.

Finally — how will your research be organized? The way of a new participant will be like this:

  1. Registration
  2. Get acquainted with the project (these two steps already in progress now!)
  3. Get acquainted with the RUSALKA setup, that is taking data you will analyze
  4. Become familiar with the data analysis procedures. The data are constantly taken and recorded in a special ROOT storage format, allowing to analyze and graphically visualize them using the ROOT program, developed physicists all over the world for this purpose. If you knew C++ programming language ROOT is written on, learned ROOT and installed it on your computers, then you could start analyzing the data yourself without the need of our site. But C++ and ROOT are quite complicated subjects so we have made the online data analysis interface using this site.
  5. Do data analysis, discuss the results with other participants and experts on our forum, preparing reports and publishing them in the corresponding section of the site named "Our results". For interesting results, we can help you to write and publish a scientific paper or prepare and make a conference talk.

The analysis will last while the setup is working and new data are collected. It is not a lab with pre-defined goal and known results. Somehow it resembles the work of astronomers who constantly watch the sky using the telescopes since Galileo Galilei invented it and will continue watching until humanity and its better part, scientists, exist.

With respect and wishes of success on this new way,
G.A. Chelkov, December 9. 2009

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