KICP Workshops, 2004
What are stars made of?, Yerkes Summer Institute
August 7 - 13, 2004 | Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI
Picture: What are stars made of?, Yerkes Summer Institute
What are stars made of?
Website | Online Materials | Photo Gallery

Between summer and the school year the Space Explorers joined members of the KICP at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI for a week long investigation into spectroscopy structured around an organizing question, "What are stars made of?"

This summer the Space Explorers investigated spectroscopy with the theme: What are stars made of? Through a series of related laboratory explorations the students delved into the fundamentals of spectroscopy and its application to astronomical objects. They studied an assortment of spectra from pure elements and pure food coloring dyes to complex mixtures in solar, stellar and galactic spectra. In some cases the challenge was to produce the spectra and in others to analyze it.

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KICP Members: Richard Kessler; Richard G. Kron; Randall H. Landsberg; Erin S. Sheldon; Monica Valluri
KICP Students: Carlos E. Cunha; Robert Friedman; Christopher Greer; Sarah M. Hansen; Douglas H. Rudd; Matthew Sharp

"Extreme Astronomy @ the Planetarium", Cosmology Short Course
September 24 - 26, 2004 | Chicago, IL
Picture: Extreme Astronomy @ the Planetarium, Cosmology Short Course
Extreme Astronomy @ the Planetarium, 2004

This three-day intensive short course will explore the most violent and mysterious realms of modern astronomy: astronomy of the highest energy phenomena. It will probe the science behind the violent worlds of black holes, neutron stars, active galactic nuclei, supernovae, high energy particles from space, x-ray & gamma-ray bursts as well as the experiments to observe these phenomenon. The instructors will be researchers at the scientific forefront who are trying to understand these incredibly powerful events. The course will provide participants with a firm foundation in modern high energy astronomy. It will also offer practical tools, such as short animations, that will help participants bring this world to a wider audience. Ultimately this KICP course aims to help bring the excitement of discovery into the planetarium and thereby to the public.

Related Links:
KICP Members: Lucy Fortson; Randall H. Landsberg; Dietrich Muller; Angela V. Olinto; Mark Subbarao; Simon P. Swordy; James Truran; Scott P. Wakely

The Future of Dark Matter Detection
December 9 - 10, 2004 | Chicago, IL
Picture: The Future of Dark Matter Detection

We intend to host a small "Workshop on Next Generation Dark Matter Detectors" with a half-day extension into an EFI mini-symposium, under the auspices of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago. The chosen dates are December 9th and 10th (possibly also the 11th, depending on participation). Goals for the workshop are delineated below. Emphasis will be on having a useful meeting, i.e., on providing us with an opportunity to meet and discuss the future of the field in a more intimate ambiance than what is usually possible in conferences. To germinate the seeds of new collaborative efforts would be a most desirable outcome.
  • The main subject of discussion will be an in-depth comparison of present and envisioned direct detection techniques and experiments within each, in particular those able to reach the ton and multi-ton target mass challenges. How far can each take us, realistically? What will it take to maximize the potential of each? Are the required technologies within reach? Are we ready to speak of multi-ton detectors? Can we beat the backgrounds that would make these superfluous?
  • Recent developments in the field seem to indicate that the unequivocal discovery of a dark matter particle will most probably take a number of experiments, possibly relying on different techniques and target materials, all coinciding in their predictions for the origin of the signal. What will be considered "proof"? Can we identify a minimum set of signatures or "tests" necessary for a claim? (or rather, for us as a community to embrace it). Can we identify possible pitfalls? (i.e., can we come up with a close to complete list of backgrounds or systematic dependences that should be excluded as the possible origin for a putative signal). Can we agree on the need or a policy to disclose data for peer inspection? Do we need an underground hall with special features that would enable us to control some of the bad actors already visible in the horizon? (e.g. "punch-through" neutrons). Can we coordinate the effort to propose it, if the need exists?
  • Since several of these techniques have a significant overlap, what are the opportunities for cross-interaction? Can we envision a rough schedule for the discovery of the Dark Matter particle? Can we compete with our HEP friends? Is there life after the LHC? What can we do, synergistically, to get there first? In this last respect, would setting up a number of workgroups (background studies, new detector technology exchange, new phenomenology, etc.) help us as a community?
  • Are we able to think out of the box? What other particle candidates should we be worrying about? (have we been too focused on WIMPs and axions?). What would it take to extend present technologies to cover these? Can we propose at this stage any new methods of detection?
  • New underground Laboratories: We recognize that the timing of this workshop is coincident with other efforts in the community to further plan the array of experiments that can benefit from access to very deep sites, namely Snolab and the NSF's "S1" science solicitation for DUSEL. We welcome the proponents and participants of these efforts to coordinate with us on this Chicago workshop to meet our common goals.


Reflections, Yerkes Winter Institute
December 27 - 29, 2004 | Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI
Picture: Reflections, Yerkes Winter Institute
Photo Gallery

The 2004 KICP Yerkes Winter Institute was held on December 27-29 at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI. (25 students, 10 instructors; 40 parents, siblings, and younger students attended). The theme of the 2004 Winter Institute was "Reflections", which built upon earlier explorations into the nature of light at the weekly Saturday Laboratories. The three daytime laboratories investigated reflections from flat and concave surfaces. The students empirically determined and tested the law of reflection (angle of incidence = angle of reflection); deconstructed a Newtonian telescope to understand how it works; and explored the power of collimating or beaming light and sound. Evening activities included utilizing the observatory telescopes and science lectures. Professor Rich Kron discussed galaxies and post-doc Brian Humensky lectured on gamma-ray astronomy.

Instructors: Charles Brass, Bill Fisher, Robert Friedman , Walter Glogowski, Andrew Hill, Brian Humensky, Rich Kron, Randy Landsberg, Erin Sheldon, Phil Wisecup.

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KICP Members: Brian Humensky; Richard G. Kron; Randall H. Landsberg; Erin S. Sheldon
KICP Students: Robert Friedman