Campus Life

Penn State Science-U program to hold gravitational wave summer camp

Artist's impression of gravitational waves generated by binary neutron stars. Credit: R. Hurt, Caltech / JPLAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Institute for CyberScience (ICS) and the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos (IGC) will host a free summer camp for local high-school students to learn about detecting gravitational waves. The camp will run from July 19 to 21 at Penn State’s University Park campus.

Leading the camp will be Penn State’s Chad Hanna, assistant professor of physics. Earlier this year, Hanna made headlines for his role in the first-ever detection of gravitational waves — minute ripples in the fabric of space-time. With the finding of these waves, Hanna was finally able to confirm the last part of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Now, students interested in science will have an opportunity to learn more about this major astrophysical breakthrough. The camp participants will assemble their own high-throughput computing cluster, similar to the ones used by Hanna and his colleagues to analyze the reams of data generated by LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory).

The campers will also receive a tour of the Tower Road Data Center, a newly constructed facility that will house Penn State's high-performance research cloud, ICS's Advanced Cyber Infrastructure (ICS-ACI).

Hanna hopes this camp will inspire the participants to follow their scientific passions.

"It's exciting to give the students this opportunity," said Hanna. "How many people can say that they helped build a supercomputer at summer camp? They will get to do real science and see how cool it is. It should be a unique experience for them."

The camp is made possible through support from Dell, ICS, the Eberly College of Science and the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST). In order to keep the event free for the students, Dell has donated the computer hardware needed to build the computing cluster. Both ICS and IGC have provided funding for the event, and will offer staff support for the campers.

The camp is being organized through Eberly’s Science-U program, which helps Penn State researchers provide outreach to the local community. The students will use Dell laptops on loan from IST during the camp.

Last Updated April 21, 2017