Neutrinos and Mt. Rushmore

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.