SPS Zone Meeting
March 4, 2016 to March 5, 2016
Socorro, NMMeeting host: SPS Chapter:
The Spring 2016 meeting of Zone 16 of the Society of Physics Students occurred at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) in Socorro, NM on March 4-5, 2016. Events included a liquid nitrogen ice cream social the evening of the 4th, followed by breakfast and student talks the next morning. The group proceeded to the Very Large Array (VLA) near Magdalena, NM where they participated in a tour by a former VLA lead scientist. The meeting concluded with a demonstration by NMT SPS’ trademark trebuchet and dinner back in Socorro. The meeting adhered to themes centered around research and outreach opportunities present at NMT.
The meeting commenced at 7:00 p.m. on March 4th with the arrival of the North Arizona University (NAU) and Arizona State University (ASU) contingents at the liquid nitrogen ice cream social. The students presented and played with NMT SPS’ array of demonstrations often taken to local schools, such as the Tesla coil, Van de Graaff generator, Wimshurst machine, double pendulum, liquid nitrogen experiments, and more, all the while exchanging stories and experiences and networking.
Breakfast and zone business discussions commenced at 9:00 a.m. the next morning, followed by student talks. NMT students Daniel Jensen, Chip Dugger, and Sam Montgomery spoke about lightning physics research instrumentation, Majorana neutrino detection, and asteroid tracking and characterization, respectively.
The attendees left Socorro at noon, arriving at the VLA near Magdalena at 1:00 p.m. for a tour by former VLA lead scientist Dr. Miller Goss. Students followed him through the operations facility where they saw the VLA control room, correlator, and fragments of its history. Dr. Goss spoke about the early history of the VLA through its recent upgrade and the tremendous advances in astronomy and astrophysics that have come about as a result. He also spoke about the contract negotiations and filming of the movie Contact, which occurred at the VLA during his time as lead scientist. Following the guided tour, students explored the VLA visitors’ center and sundial display.
NAU and ASU left after the VLA tour. NMT, NMSU, and UNM proceeded back to the NMT campus, where NMT SPS’ trademark trebuchet was set up. NMT fired several shots off from their trebuchet, speaking about how it is used for outreach to surrounding communities. The recent refurbishment of the trebuchet by the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC) made it all the more exciting. The meeting concluded with a dinner at Bodega, paid for by NMT SPS.
In total, 37 undergraduate physics students and SPS members attended the meeting: 8 from North Arizona University (NAU), 10 from Arizona State University (ASU), 3 from New Mexico State University (NMSU), 2 from the University of New Mexico (UNM), and 14 from NMT.