Summer is drawing to a close, and with it ends another season that often turns lab life on its head and has changed many people’s lives: summer student season. As the students from around the world finish off their projects, present their work to their fellow students and stock up on lab t-shirts, some leave with the certainty that they will return to do particle physics one day.
One small group out of a total of 104 summer students at the German lab DESY has spent their summer improving a core tool for many particle physics test: the beam telescope. The beam telescope is an array of spaced detector layers that can hold the test objects (prototypes for new detectors mostly). It provides reference measurements using its own data acquisition system.” It was developed for the EUDET project and has been built for seven different labs and projects since, most recently for the AIDA-2020 project.
The telescope experts based at DESY wanted to push the functionality of their tool further and had identified three areas that would fit neatly into the schedule of three summer students. So in came Darya Shirokova, Manuel Morgado and Torben Lange from Russia, Venezuela and Germany. Darya, an IT student from Novosibirsk State University, made modifications to the existing data acquisition software. Manuel, who studies physics at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, worked on a new feature that measures the ambient temperature and humidity to make environmental data available to telescope users and thus make it more user friendly. And Torben, in his second semester towards a master in physics at Hamburg University, worked on better characterisation of the incoming particle beam by measuring the particles’ energy. Together with their supervisors they spent weeks in the test beam control room, tweaking, comparing and checking results.
Manuel is the only DESY summer student from South America and one of his ambitions in life is to give particle physics a wider base in his country. He applied for the programme and took a 30-hour flight because he wanted to gather experience with real experiments. He is clearly enjoying both his project and his time as a summer student. “It’s my first time to Germany and Hamburg is a great place with just the right number of people and all kinds of places to go to have fun with the other summer students,” he says. But the fun is only one part of the once-in-a-lifetime experience of being a summer student, learning what life is like as a scientist is the other. “I definitely want to stay in particle physics,” Manuel says.
“I wanted to get my hands on real hardware,” says Torben, who used the existing telescope in a new set-up to study the particles sent to the test area by DESY’s workhorse accelerator called DESY II. His supervisor Paul Schütze confirms that you can develop detectors anywhere, but for a real test beam experience you need to be at a lab. He should know: three years earlier he was a summer student at DESY himself…