Week 2: Crash Course in Everything

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Sunday, June 8, 2014


Kirsten Randle

My official first week on the job has been pretty exciting. I've read several papers on the CMB, the CLASS Detector, and the primary noise source in the detector. I've basically spend the whole week learning lots of new things and meeting lots of people. A brief tour of the lab included an introduction to miliKelvin cryogenics, electrical engineering, and a small microwave polarization experiment. Hopefully I'll keep learning this summer, since I'm already having so much fun.

My immediate assignment has been to start into detector noise characterization. I'm learning python to work on a statistical mechanics-based evaluation of the "photon noise," or basically the fluctuation of the efficiency of the detector in collecting light. I've successfully written a function that calculates the spectral radiance per frequency (the Planck distribution) and the power per frequency, which adapts the planck distribution to the aperture of the detector. My lab group is very helpful and friendly and willing to answer questions.

Friday night the SPS Executive Committee took us out to dinner at Old Ebbitt's Grill where we enjoyed a lovely dinner before heading to an astronomy festival on the National Mall. Sightings: Moon, Jupiter, Mars, ISS, POTUS. Once it got dark, we made our way through the monuments, which look awesome at night. This week we also had an addition to our group. Ben, one of the Mather Policy interns arrived this Thursday. Our little "neighborhood" in our dorm hallway is finally complete.


Kirsten Randle