SALTA in a Nutshell:
Cosmic Rays at Snowmass 2001
- SALTA stands for Snowmass Area Large-scale
- Ultra-high energy cosmic rays (protons or nuclei with joules of kinetic energy)
are of great interest to research physicists
- How can particles be accelerated to such extreme energies?
- Challenge to the Standard Model and other fundamental physics issues
- How can they reach us from their extremely distant (almost certainly extra-galactic)
- Challenges to space science, astrophysics and cosmology
- Programs exist in several places around the US and Canada to bring these efforts into
local secondary schools
- Teachers and students are active participants in forefront research, and help develop
learning modules for physics classes
- Students get to see what real scientists do at work - you too can be a quantum mechanic!
- Lasting relationship established between schools and university/national lab physics
- 1-week workshop will introduce teachers and students to physics goals, techniques and
equipment, to be held during Snowmass-2001 particle physics conference in July.
- Many other public-outreach activities during July
- "Physics on the Mall" weekend event for general public
- Public lectures by leading physicists
- Physics teachers from around the country will attend Quarknet
- Goals of the Snowmass cosmic ray workshop:
- Introduce teachers and students to basic ideas of cosmic ray physics
- Why do this kind of research?
- How's it done?
- Hands-on work preparing and setting up detector elements for their schools
- Prepare scintillator counters
- Use oscilloscopes to check out counters and perform simple pre-experiments
- Install cosmic ray detector elements at Roaring Fork Valley secondary schools
immediately after workshop
- Research engineer and grad students provide assistance
- Link schools via existing Internet connections to form a large-scale Extensive Air
Shower (EAS) array for ultra-high energy cosmic ray observations
- GPS timing
allows triggering on simultaneous events at multiple schools
- Connected to NALTA (consortium of
similar efforts in many parts of US and Canada) via University of Nebraska (CROP)
Efforts have been underway in several places around the US and Canada to develop
large-area EAS detectors for ultra-high energy (1019 eV) cosmic rays using
local secondary schools as sites for detector elements. GPS timing and the schools'
existing Internet connections allow local triggers to be logged, timestamped to
few-nanosec precision, and then forwarded to a central analysis computer, to be scanned
for events spanning several sites. Such arrays may not only contribute to the physics
goals pursued by large-scale international projects like Auger, but will allow us for the
first time to observe events spanning 100s of km.
A workshop held in Seattle in
September, 2001 brought together physicists and educators from around the USA and
Canada. In addition to organizing a North American coalition of regional projects, NALTA, the workshop included discussions of
a demonstration effort to be held in connection with the Physics Weekend outreach effort
planned for the Snowmass 2001 particle physics workshop, to be held in Snowmass, CO in
For further information, contact: J.
Wilkes, U. of Washington.