Third-year graduate student Chris Coleman-Smith spent five weeks in India during the months of December and January using a $3,000 grant from the American Physical Society and the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum. Coleman-Smith says, “I applied because one of my collaborators works in India and I’ve always wanted to go from a fairly young age.” He spent the first week in Goa at the International Conference on Physics and Astrophysics of Quark Gluon Plasma, where he gave a paper titled “Implementing the Landau-Pomeranchuk-Migdal (LPM) effect in a parton cascade.” Prof. Steffen Bass, one of his advisors, participated in a panel at the conference.
Coleman-Smith spent the next four weeks at the Variable Energy Cyclotron Center in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), where one of his collaborators, Dr. Dinesh Srivastava, works. There, he worked on improving a computer model involving how particles move through quark gluon plasma—specifically how sets of highly energetic particles called jets lose energy as they move through QGP. “There’s a lot of tearing your hair out and going through computer code line by line,” he says, “but we’ve now got it and are pretty sure it’s right.” Although he worked long days and accomplished a lot of physics, he also had time for some sightseeing. He said his biggest impression was that India is a land of huge contrasts—high-tech laboratories existing side-by-side with the traditional sights, smells, and noises of India. “A lot of it was kind of what I imagined but it’s still surprising to see all this—dogs everywhere, cows everywhere, the traffic, the smells, the noises,” he says. “No cities I’ve been to before have been like that.” View Chris' trip photos on Flickr here.