On our first day, we went to ICRAR – Curtin. There we met our friendly and outgoing supervisors, Kat Ross, and Gregory Rowbotham. We were given a quick tour of the building, viewing where the Ph.D. students, professors, and engineers work. We then met a Ph.D. student who talked with us about pulsars which were very interesting. In 1960 a scientist discovered a pulsing light in the sky using a telescope connected to a seismograph instrument. The consistent pulses led to some theories of why this star pulsed. There were three ideas of what it could be, the star orbited around another mass, the star changed brightness, or the star only emitted a beam of light while rotating. It would not be possible for a star to orbit a mass or change brightness in a second. This led to the conclusion that the star emitted a beam of light which then led to the name pulsars. Pulsars then can be used to find gravitational waves because gravitational waves stretch space-time. By measuring two pulsars they can find a gravitational wave by the change in the pulse emitted from the star. We then went to see an engineer and she explained her work at ICRAR which was designing parts for telescopes. We then experienced a seminar where all the research scientists came to listen to another researcher explain her work. After lunch, we met someone who explained the SKA and MWA projects. We learned that optical astronomy is only light we can see while radio astronomy is light/ waves that we cannot see such as radio waves and gamma rays. The difference between the SKA and the MWA is that the SKA process waves at a lower frequency. We also had a look at the software used to see what telescopes are online and in use. This concluded our day.
Today we were at ICRAR – UWA where we met different researchers and professors. We met with an observer which is someone who works with a simulator to explain the simulations made by the simulators. We learned about the different galaxies and their interaction with each other. After that, we had talked about cosmology (study of the universe on a large scale) with Greg. Some key points that I received from that talk are that the universe is constantly expanding. After lunch, we talked with a professor and how he became a research scientist. To become a research scientist, you need to do a university course in physics, math, or astronomy. You then must do a Ph.D. which consists of writing a thesis that solves/helps a small problem. After completing your Ph.D. you are officially a researcher. After that, we talked with a simulator which someone who creates simulations of how things may act in space. Simulators use a lot of coding and must apply physics to their programs to create an accurate simulation. This finished our day at ICRAR- UWA.
Today we went on a special trip to PAWSEY. PAWSEY is a supercomputer center where they store data received from the telescopes such as the MWA. At PAWSEY we talked about quantum physics which was very mind-boggling. We talked about quantum entanglement, superposition, the double-slit experiment, and how we can teleport atoms and subatomic particles by using quantum physics. After that, we had a social media talk about how social media is used as a researcher/scientist. After that, we looked at a raspberry pie which is a very small computer, and experimented with a simulation that shows the difference in quality when adding more raspberry pies. We then talked about quantum computing and the difference between JPU and CPU. That concluded our interesting and knowledgeable day at PAWSEY.
We are back at ICRAR- Curtin meeting lots of researchers and Ph.D. students. We talked with an outreach worker. She communicates with the public about their research for example teaching children about the epoch of reionization through activities. We then talked to a program developer. He improves the algorithms that researchers make so that they can be used again without bugs/ crashes. We then talked with an engineer about his project. Light from space can be easily disturbed by things like our atmosphere. The engineer is working with a team to create a satellite that sends beams to earth and then received by an antenna so they can measure how the atmosphere disturbs the light. We then learned about how researchers use their data. They turn the data into a graph, they can then use parameters to make a line that fits the data. If it fits, they can use it to predict the numbers that come after given data. We then talked with a theoretical physics about gravitational lensing. A theoretical physics is someone who explains complex ideas using simple physics/earth examples. This finished our last day at ICRAR- Curtin.
On our last day, we talked with a Ph.D. researcher on dust at UWA. Dust in space is important because it disturbs light received by telescopes but also has an important function in the formation of galaxies. Dust acts as a catalyst and protects certain elements from being destroyed. We also learned the possible ways that dust can form in space which is through supernovas and solid particles in space attracting other elements. We then had a morning tea which was for everyone at ICRAR to talk about upcoming coming projects and notices. After our break, we went to the top of a UWA building to look inside Spirit 2. Spirit 2 is a telescope that takes pictures of galaxies and stars for people. We also had a look at an experiment that an engineer was using to see how the atmosphere disturbs light. After that, we talked with a Ph.D. student who went to the same school as me. She explained how she become a Ph.D. student and what she is researching. She is researching the angular momentum of galaxies and how galaxies start. We then talked with a professor about his journey and how he uses voltage to create images from space. We then had to finish up quickly because of a covid case causing a lockdown. We finished our amazing week with a breakdown/ overview of our week and some advice from Greg Rowbotham.
This week was a very educational and clarifying experience. Things I learned from work experience at ICRAR is that your future is not set out by what university courses you choose. You gain skills during your first job that will open a range of other jobs. I also learned how to become a research scientist (astronomer), complete undergraduate courses in physics or math. Then complete a major course and a Ph.D. after that. My highlight of the week is the space talk on merging galaxies, pulsars, gravitational lensing, and dust. I am very grateful for the opportunity that Greg Rowbotham and Kat Ross provided me.