Summer in Bloomington is often calm and spent focusing on research. With a conference coming up in the fall, there was an extra drive to complete some analysis on my research group’s detector. I also had my qualifying exam coming up in August, which unfortunately interfered with research. I found I prefer research over studying, but that’s why I’m in grad school.
In the midst of these two deadlines, I did go visit my family in South Dakota over the 4th of July and consequently Mt. Rushmore and Sanford Lab.
Notes on visiting Mt. Rushmore on Independence Day: Do not go in the afternoon. Not unless you like sitting behind a long line of RVs and motorcycles winding around a narrow mountain road. Instead, do as the locals and go early. The crowds are still large, but passable. Oh, and don’t miss the actor-presidents hanging around the grounds giving out autographs.
While there, I also visited the developing Sanford Lab in Lead, SD. The lab was originally the Homestake gold mine and still often referred by that name. Every year the lab hosts a Neutrino Day, similar to IU’s Physics and Astronomy Open House event, but smaller and placed on a mountaintop. My undergraduate institution (being a “School of Mines”) has many ties to Homestake, from training the mining engineers in the past to collaborating with the new underground lab today. This connection is where I started in experimental nuclear physics and holds a sense of nostalgia.