Yesterday was the first day of a research project I began through Quarknet at OSU. It was actually an interesting day although not necessarily what I had expected.
I arrived with plenty of time to spare and met my mentors, Dr. Flera Rizatdinova and Dr. Sasha Khanov. They are both high energy physicist who teach at OSU and are involved both with Fermilab and the LHC. They have so much knowledge and are more than willing to share it with me. It seems as though Flera is into the actual data analysis side of things while Sasha is really good with computing and the hardware side. He is quite knowledgeable in different types of particle detectors. BTW, they are actually married and have a couple of children who are both younger than 6. Apparently their son is obsessed with how things come apart and go back together. Sounds like a little scientist in the making. Both Flera and Sasha are from Russia, but met at Kansas State.
My morning was filled with a computing class from Sasha and some general knowledge from Flera about the Z boson and how they use the Root program to detect different types of particles. Root is an open source program which was written by the physicists at CERN to analyze their data. I got a brief intro to it coupled with an introduction to UNIX. I have never worked in either, so it was quite a morning.
After lunch, we met again and I was instructed to play around within the Root program and UNIX. Its kind of like learning to drive a car without understanding how the car actaully works. This a problem for me since I really like to understand how things actually do what they do. Suffice to say I just accepted my lot in life because there is no way I can learn everything! I am just going to try to pick up some data analysis skills and computing knowledge during these 4 weeks.
I am beginning to feel a little more comfortable just navigating around within UNIX and Root; now its time to actually start manipulating some of the different code modules so I can get a handle on how to make Root do something for me, instead of me just looking at other peoples data.