BY HOVSEP DAGHDIGIAN
With the end of summer approaching, most students are anxious to be out of school for the next few months. However at the Cosmic Ray Division of the Yerevan Physics Institute’s Nor Ambert research station, 16 enthusiastic young Armenians gathered for a series of intensive physics lectures.
Starting on May 13, a 3-day class on physics began with lectures by noted scientists: Professor Ashot Chilingarian, head of Armenia’s Cosmic Ray Division; visiting Professor Johannes Knapp, from the DESSY research center in Germany; and Dr. Tigran Karapetyan, a senior researcher at the Cosmic Ray Division.
The 16 students were from Yerevan, Vanatsor, and Vaghashapat (Echmiadzin) with enrollment equally divided between young men and women. A few of the students were originally from Syria. Three of the students recently completed, or are completing, their bachelor degrees and are continuing their science education. The rest are high school students. Students remained at CRD’s facilities on Mt. Aragats for the duration of the class. Enrollment was free; students had only to successfully complete a test indicating they were prepared for the level of instruction that was offered, and that they were reasonably proficient in English.
On day one Professor Knapp opened with introductory remarks, followed by a lecture on Cosmic Ray Physics by Professor Chilingarian. After an hour break for lunch, Dr. Tigran Karapetyan delved into the physics of the instruments which monitor cosmic radiation. While doing so he established a remarkable rapport with the students, with numerous questions and answers illuminating the subject. Occasional humorous comments by both Karapetyan and the students elicited laughter.
Later that afternoon, all gathered at the laboratory for a hands-on examination of a cosmic ray particle detector—designed by CRD’s physicists. Students adjusted operational parameters, and viewed the detector’s data which was displayed on an attached computer screen. During the subsequent days, Professor Knapp lectured in English with Professor Chilingarian and Dr. Karapetian lecturing in Armenian.
The level of instruction was impressive and a testimony to the seriousness of the students’ intent to pursue their interest in science, as well as the ability of the lectures to connect with, and encourage, the students.
A few days after the class, a group of the students sent an email to the organizers of the summer school. With quotes from Albert Einstein, they expressed their appreciation to the lecturers, thanking the Cosmic Ray Division and DESY for making this summer school possible. In addition to world class research, science education is one of the primary goals of the Cosmic Ray Division.