For the next week, I’ll be in Michigan with my professor and research group working at the NSCL to do some data analysis and other research-y work.  We got in yesterday at about 4.30 pm, after which we drove from Detroit to East Lansing where MSU is located, moved in to our temporary abode at Marriot town suites, went out for dinner, shopped at Meijer for food, came back and watched the first episode of Firefly.  We are hard at work.

Our goals for this upcoming week included an experiment run, which would have been fun and educational as well as providing the collaboration my professor works with some valuable data.  Unfortunately, due to some malfunctions in the cyclotron equipment, the run was cancelled and instead we’ll just be doing the aforementioned data acquisition and doing some research that should aid us in our continued summer project: the rebuilding of the Cosmic Muon Detection Array (and subsequent update of the CMDA webpage..).

Here are some facts you may not know about Michigan:

  • It borders the Canadian province of Ontario … to the north.  Yes, Canada actually snakes around to the south-east of Detroit, giving Michigan-ians (Michigese? Michigites?) a rare opportunity to travel to the Great White North by going south.
  • All wildlife, at least during the summer, is the exact same shade of green.  The grass is the same color as every bush is the same color as every tree.  This is mildly disconcerting as you are driving the freeway, surrounded on either side by fauna.  I’ll try to take a photo to post here later this week so you believe me.  I have it on good authority that the plant life does change color during the fall and actually does the deciduous thing and dies during the winter, but have not verified myself.
  • At least in Detroit, East Lansing, and the places in between, street lights are hung directly from the power lines crossing the intersection.  Coupled with the fact that nearly every building is made of brick here, it definitely feels like a “back east” locale, even though we’re not quite in New England yet.
  • The Michigan highway sign is the Trunkline Shield, a diamond shield with an M on it similar to the design used on the University of Michigan atheletic team logo.  It is improper to refer to the highways as “route” or simply by their number; instead they are referred to as “M-xx” (Hence the M-35 in the title).

As we do things physics-related, I’ll post some tidbits here so as to give brief glimpses into what it’s like working with a large group of physicists in their home environment.  Compared to the previous two summers’ work of astronomy research, this is a new country so I’m sure I’ll be learning as much as you will through me here.

In unrelated news, I am posting this from a new laptop that I received as a graduation gift a few days before coming to Michgina.  It is in fact running Windows Vista, which I am not 100% sure I am a fan of yet.  It’s not quite as much of a power drainer as certain articles suggest, but it is more of a system resource hog than I would like.  I’m going to spend some time this week acquanting myself more with the system and with ways to work around Microsoft’s smothering we-know-best tendencies, and I’ll post anything interesting that I come up with.  Part of my free time here this week will also be spent trying out various distros of GNU/Linux on VMWare Workstation, so I’ll post the results of those tests as they come along.  First up: Mandriva One Spring 2009.