Pulsar Search Committee offers physics opportunities
Biology, chemistry, physics. Sound familiar? The latter are possible science classes that one could take at Marshall. But just over the summer, a new alternative was made available by one of our very own physics teachers, Ms. Janet Kahn. Enter the Pulsar Search Collaboratory! This group of students represents Marshall in the national PSC, which consists of a multitude of high schools. To enter the group, students must pass two tests where they score data charts on how close it resembles a pulsar. After they pass, they are allowed to access data from the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Pulsars are fascinating objects and were only discovered in 1967. Their name comes from the words PULSating stARs because when a star (such as our sun eventually) exhausts all its fuel, it will collapse upon itself, mashing the electrons and protons together to create neutrons. The neutron star is a lot smaller than its old self and much denser. As it rotates, it emits light as a lighthouse does—in pulses. Recently, sophomore Emily Phan discovered a pulsar candidate that has not been detected by scientists or any other PSC member throughout the country. The candidate is still being observed, but it is more than possible that Marshall’s PSC had just added a significant addition to star charts across the world.
A version of this story appeared in the January 2012 issue of Rank & File