David Trang is a native to a small Dutch town called Holland in Michigan. In hopes to escape the winter, he now attends the University of Hawai’i-Hilo where he is currently majoring in astronomy, geology and psychology. His strong curiosity about nature enabled him to help one of his psychology professors at UH-Hilo research how religion affects the brain. At the age of 19, David submitted his first scientific paper with the help from another professor and hopes to finish editing it to have it published. After graduation he plans to study planetary science.

Institution when acceptedUniversity of Hawai’i-Hilo.

Akamai Project: Gazing the Sky for Air Showers

Project Site: University of Hawai’i at Hilo

Mentors:Dr. Robert Fox, John Hamilton and Yoichi Asaoka

Project Abstract:

Air showers, commonly identified as cosmic rays, are high-energy particles traveling near the speed of light. Cosmic rays were first discovered in the early twentieth century and their origins are still unknown. To achieve a true understanding of these cosmic rays, it is necessary to monitor the entire sky at once. This is the purpose of the All-Sky Survey High Resolution Air Shower Detector (ASHRA) experiment. It is imperative that detectors be in a location that is near the equator to cover both north and south, and at a high elevation to escape the atmosphere. The goal of this project was to construct a detector and obtain observations from it. Future plans of ASHRA consist of three sites with thirty-two detectors each on the Big Island. The construction phase consisted of surveying, constructing the shelter and assembling the mirror. Observations are completed at night looking for cherenkov radiation and florescence nitrogen in order to find cosmic rays indirectly. Florescence nitrogen is seen when a high-energy particle moves through the Earth’s atmosphere and give off a streak due to ionizing the surrounding nitrogen. Cherenkov radiation is defined as a particle moving through a medium faster than light. Results from observations will tell us the frequency of cosmic rays coming from an area and the type of objects that emit them. Eventually, this will lead to faster and more efficient construction of future detectors. Results will be presented.

Link to a PDF of David’s project presentation.