When I was looking for work experience, I had no idea where to go when I remembered one of my sisters friends worked at ICRAR. She then put me in contact with Kirsten and Greg, who I gave my application to. I then did a phone interview with Greg, talking about my interests, school subjects and recent events in the science community.
On the first day, I went to the Curtin campus and met my supervisors Ronniy and Pikky, and I also met the two other students doing work experience at the same time, Jen and Vangeli. Ronniy gave a presentation about the early universe and how the universe has evolved since then. We then talked to the head of an engineering team and she talked to us about what she does and how the telescopes work. She also spoke to us about the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a large array of small radio telescopes that combine the data they collect to get more accurate pictures of the universe. We also learned about the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) which is a plan for a huge group of high powered telescopes spread across Western Australia and South Africa, and when it is built we will be able to see farther into the universe than ever before.
On the second day we were at the UWA campus and we were given a presentation by Kevin Vincen from Data Intensive Astronomy (DIA) who told us more about the SKA, how it works and what can achieve with it. We also learnt about gravitational waves and how they can be detected. We also spoke to Luca Cortese about his work at ICRAR. And how to tell the age of stars and gas by their colour. He also told us about how when photos are taken with telescopes they are in black and white and using an editing program the astronomers add red, white and blue to add colour and have a higher resolution image. We then had lunch, and while we were eating lunch we watched a video about cosmology and the nature of the universe. After lunch we spoke to Kate Harbourne and she showed us her tool she made for her PhD. It is called SimSpin and you can use it to adjust the physics of a simulated galaxy and see how it reacts.
On the third day we were still at the UWA campus. We first spoke to Pascal Elahi who was another simulator who makes huge simulations of the early universe, seeing how it evolved and how galaxies formed. We also spoke with Pascal about Dark Matter and Dark Energy. We then spoke to Robin who told us the pathways to a PhD and how to get there. He also spoke to us about coding and the different languages he uses in his work. After that we went to Astro Morning Tea (AMT) which, deceptively, didn’t have any good or drinks and most of the information went over our heads. We went to a few talks like these throughout the week but the information was made for the students there so I didn’t understand most of what was being said.
On the 4th day we went back to Curtin and we spoke to Alex who taught us more about Cosmic Rays and the specific technology that he uses to detect them. He also told us more about how Cosmic Rays interact with our atmosphere. After that we spoke to Steve who told us about his work with the MWA and how it all works. We then spoke to Teresa who told us a bout a game she made simulating an atom trying to escape a star, she then showed us the code she made to digitalise the game. It was our task to find out what was wrong with the code and fix it. By the end we found something wrong with the code for when you rolled a 3 and we managed to fix it. After that we spoke to our other supervisor at Curtin Pikky about her work with black holes, how they are born and how they can be detected. We then used maths and coding to identify if a black hole was moving using an image editing software and a few different pictures of the hole.
On the 5th day we were back at UWA and we were taken to the UWA Physics building by Paul, who showed us the Spirit 2 telescope and how it works. We then spoke to Chris who spoke to us about telescope imaging and (more) coding. He also told us some more about galactic simulations and how they are made. We then went to POW (Plot of the Week not Prisoner of War) which is a group of about 6 students, some of which we had met before, who submitted a graph detailing some work they did that week and everyone (including us) would vote for the best plot. The winner would win an extra large shirt with a photo of garlic bread on it and the honour of winning. After the winner was decided we played a few rounds of Geoguesser, a game in which Google Earth puts you in street view on a random place on Earth and you have to guess where you are using sins and clues. After POW our supervisor at UWA Greg showed us how to weigh a galaxy, after we did that we had an hour to ask Greg any questions we had about astronomy and astrophysics, and he did his best to answer them. It was very interesting learning about the universe from someone who has been studying it for years, this session of questioning made the 5th day my favourite day because I learned so much and found it very interesting.