Professors display cosmic ray detector
Notre Dame physics professor Randy Ruchti and his colleague Barry Baumbaugh recently attended the formal opening of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum featuring the cosmic ray particle detector they constructed.
The cosmic ray particle detector, commonly known as the "black box," contains a fiber optic plate and elements. When a particle moves through the one foot long and four inch wide box, it reflects off the plate and creates a light.
"We have been building detectors to study the elementary particles, and we want the cosmic rays that run directly through the box to be available to the general public," said Ruchti, who has worked alongside Baumbaugh on the project since 1982.
Ruchti and Baumbaugh's hopes the boxes will be carried into space for further observations.
"It is our hope that with the help of Notre Dame students, we can get the box on the space shuttles so we can see the primary protons in space and observe the huge interactions," said Ruchti.
Through the aid of Notre Dame, Ruchti and Baumbaugh can display their detector next to many other great models from scientific history and astronomers. Other featured exhibits include a model of the observatory and telescope that Sir William Herschel used to discover Uranus in 1781 and the back-up mirror for the Hubble Space Telescope.
The particle detector is permanently on exhibit in the "Explore the Universe" section of the museum. Ruchti hopes students will take advantage of the exhibit and appreciate the resources available to them as members of the Notre Dame community.
"It will be nice for people from Notre Dame to get to see the detector, and it is a good way of sharing some of the things we do here," said Ruchti.
The exhibit will open to the public Friday.
All News Stories for Monday, September 17, 2001