Science -- Your Future, Scotland's Future
Nuffield Scholarships

In the summer of 2005, and again in 2006, Alan Walker and Peter Reid were the joint supervisors of a Nuffield bursary student. (Click here for more information on the Nuffield Foundation's Science Bursary scheme.)

Both students went on to win major prizes at the BA Crest Science Fair, held at the Royal Society, in London. Holly, our 2006 student, went on to win major awards at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair, in Albuquerque, USA. More information can be found on this news page.
Holly Batchelor: 2006 – Cosmic Rain

Holly worked on several projects, during her six-week placement, the detailed results of which can be read in her report, which is available here in Word format. (The report contains many images, and is 12 Mb in size.)

1) Cosmic Ray Hodoscopes

The core of Holly's project was the construction, testing and use of a cosmic ray hodoscope (described in the PP4SS exhibit page here.) The components for four hodoscopes were bought (eight scintillator paddles and photomultiplier tubes, and four coincidence-counting circuit boards), and Holly (with the assistance of Maddy Clarke, a pupil who had volunteered to spend some time at the University over the summer) built up three working hodoscope units. (Components for the fourth were tested, but it has still to be put together.)

One hodoscope was built as a boxed unit , used for simple testing. The second device was turned into a cosmic ray telescope: the spacing between the paddles can be altered (varying the width of the cone of particles which can be detected), and the entire hodoscope can be rotated to any angle (from horizontal to the zenith). The third hodoscope will form the basis for the lightweight hodoscope, perched on top of the cosmic doorway, our outreach exhibit. (Read more about this at the hodoscope page.)

Having built and calibrated the hodoscopes, Holly then carried out preliminary measurements of the angular distribution of cosmic rays, obtaining initial results which agree broadly with published data.

2) The Cosmic Doorway

In the second part of her project, Holly helped to build and test the electronic circuitry (designed by Peter) used in the cosmic doorway. She learned the basics of circuit design and testing, as well as how to solder electronic components and cables.

3) Muon Energy Spectrum Measurement

Third, Holly carried out some measurements using the muon lifetime kit, following on from the previous year's Nuffield project (see below). In particular, she measured part of the energy spectrum of the incoming flux of muons, by varying the mass of steel plate used to slow down incoming particles (and therefore to select the range of energies of particles detected). (There's more information on her results in the Nuffield report, above.)

4) A Cheap Cloud Chamber

The final component of Holly's (busy) six weeks was added after she had started working with us, when Alan mentioned that she might carry out a study into the feasibility of building a cheap diffusion cloud chamber, which could be built by schools. With the help of Maddy Clarke, Holly came up with the design described on our cloud chamber exhibit page.