Senior builds acoustics models for physics lab

By Lauren Sonnenberg

When Head Prefect Michael Wagmeister ’13 contacted physics teacher Antonio Nassar looking for a summer internship, he expected data recording, but instead found himself discussing the Higgs Boson discovery with physics grad students and designing a scale model of an experimental cell. Wagmeister worked at a UCLA Physics research lab with Professor Gary Williams, an expert on Acoustics and Low Temperature Physics at UCLA.

Last January, Nassar put Wagmeister in touch with Williams. Five months later, Wagmeister started his work to help test sound waves found in super fluid helium, a state of matter that behaves like a fluid but with fluid resistance. Wagmeister continued his work testing for these sound waves three afternoons a week until mid-August.

While helping Williams test for third sound, he became a part of the brainstorming process for a new experiment. Williams was testing for fourth sound, another type of sound wave found in porous glass material. Wagmeister constructed a scale model of the cell where the experiment would take place, with aluminum prototypes of the design.

“Here I was just a high school student with one year of pretty basic physics and here’s this 65-year old Ph.D. physicist who is asking me to try to resolve a conflict,” Wagmeister explained. “It was just really cool to be able to design the actual prototype and see the physical representation of the prototype and be able to play around with it.”