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By Justine Benzen
UW-RF University Communications

NOV. 18, 2005-- Jonathan Eisch, a senior physics major at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, recently returned from London where he presented his "briefcase-sized" particle detector to the IceCube Collaboration meeting.

Eisch, who is from Wisconsin Rapids, has been working on his portable cosmic ray detector for the past year. This December, his work will finally pay off as his detector travels to the South Pole as part of the construction of the IceTop Cosmic Ray Detector.

"With this new detector, we're able to put an entire rack of equipment into a light-weight case and run it off batteries and solar power," said Eisch.

The IceTop detector is made up of 160 1,000-gallon tanks of ice. These tanks are set over a kilometer-squared area over the IceCube detector. The tanks contain highly sensitive light detectors to identify cosmic rays. These will be capable of capturing information-laden, high-energy particles from some of the most distant and violent events in the universe. It promises a new window to the heavens and may be astronomy's best bet to resolve the century-old quest to identify the sources of cosmic rays.

During the last decade, IceCube scientists constructed and operated the first high-energy neutrino telescope. Completed in 2000, the Antarctic Moon and Neutrino Detector Array (AMANDA) had transformed part of the Antarctica icecap into a particle detector.

With AMANDA as its proof-of-concept, the IceCube telescope was constructed to peer deep into the cosmos searching for dark matter that could reveal new physical processes associated with the enigmatic origin of the highest energy particles in nature.

The IceCube project is an international project including institutions from Japan, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Antarctica, and several from the United States including professors at UW-River Falls.
When Eisch arrived at UW-RF as a freshman, he expressed an interest in working on the IceCube project. He spent the summer of 2004 working with the IceCube group at the Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware, which is one of his first choices for a doctoral program in physics.

Eisch anticipates graduating this May and hopes to continue working with the project as part of his doctoral program education.

“I’ve learned a lot. This experience has provided me with a good opportunity to find out what I want to do with my life,” said Eisch. “I know I want to continue doing what I’m doing.”

Eisch says that the most important aspect to the South Pole experience is that “students are working on real science and working to make a difference in national science projects.”

For more information on the project, visit


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:06:46 Central Daylight Time

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