An Unusual Competition, an Unusual Prize

By Hovsep Daghdigian, Harvard MA, 11 February 2024

The Cosmic Ray Division (CRD) of Alikhanyan National Laboratory (Yerevan Physics Institute) announced an open student competition for proposed projects in High-Energy Physics in the Atmosphere (HEPA). The selected project will be performed at CRD’s high-altitude research facilities on Mt. Aragats. This is a unique location for HEPA research. Each year, in May-June and September-October, tens of intense TGEs (Thunderstorm Ground Enhancements) shower the particle detectors with millions of electrons and gamma rays, and occasionally with neutrons.

Proposals for atmospheric and environmental physics experiments will be considered. The competing proposals will illustrate how participants intend to use CRD’s unique facilities. A newly equipped 9 m2 laboratory will be provided to the winning projects for research of atmospheric physics phenomena, including registration of the Thunderstorm Ground Enhancements (TGEs), air glows, electric fields, lightning occurrences, natural gamma radiation, and other environmental phenomena. Researchers/students can utilize CRD’s existing infrastructure including particle detectors, photometers, high-speed cameras, data-acquisition (DAQ) electronics, online computers, spectrometers, and geomagnetic and near-surface electric field monitors. Most importantly, the winning team will have an opportunity to discuss and tune their project ideas with CRD scientists and researchers before installing their facilities on Mt. Aragats.

Proposals will be judged on motivation and creativity. The students will be invited to spend one week at the Aragats research station (in June-August) to conduct their experiment, with a unique opportunity to join the CRD team. The results will be summarised in a report and presented at upcoming international TEPA (Thunderstorm and Elementary Particle Acceleration) conferences. Students will also be invited to attend a planned summer school.

Proposals should be in free format, including all proposed facility specifications, and be provided to CRD by 1 March 2024. All correspondence should go to Asaturyan Zara, [email protected]. The winners will be declared on March 15, 2024.

This competition is open to students of all grades (graduate, undergraduate, and high school).

For links to the CRD site and CRD publications, visit
http://crd.yerphi.am/ and http://crd.yerphi.am/crd_publications

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Image in teaser: An overhead view of Kari Lij (Stone Lake) near the summit of Mt. Aragats.  CRD’s Aragats Research Station, at the bottom-right of the image, is  the world’s largest installation of ground-based cosmic ray monitors at 10,500 ft above sea level.
Tower image: Experimental tower equipped to measure particles from atmospheric events and cosmic rays, electric field strength, and multiple meteorological parameters as well as the presence and location of thunderstorms. Also this station is equipped to photograph atmospheric events.
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