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Bill Harlan

The nine members of the 2013 Davis-Bahcall Scholarship class visited the Davis Campus on the 4850 Level last week. In the photo at right, taken on the top deck of the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment, the scholars seem to be signaling that LUX is the world's number one dark matter detector. That might be true, but for this year's Davis-Bahcall class, this common digital salute has an uncommon, and rather specific, meaning: "For science!"

They deliver the phrase with gusto, as if to say, "Huzzah! For SCIENCE!" Deep Thoughts asked about the origin of the phrase, but it remains unclear. Still, enthusiasm for science is understandable among Davis-Bahcall scholars, who are some of South Dakota's top science and math students.

Experiment Support Specialist Mark Hanhardt briefed the scholars on LUX and on the Majorana Demonstrator experiment during their morning underground. Hanhardt recently enrolled in South Dakota's brand new physics doctoral program, and he was among the first to receive a degree from South Dakotas new master's degree program in physics. His pitch for a career in fundamental research focused on his colleagues in the Davis Campus. "Everyone around you wants to do exactly the same thing: find out what the universe is made of," Hanhardt said. "That's my dream job."

Deputy Education Director Peggy Norris (who is a nuclear physicist) accompanied the students underground and worked with them to set up a muon detector in a small excavated space in the Davis Campus. Davis-Bahcall scholar Adrian Del Grosso, who is majoring in computer science, and Education Department intern Conrad Farnsworth provided valuable expertise connecting the detector to the Internet. While Del Grosso and Farnsworth worked, Norris, a ballroom dance instructor, gave Davis-Bahcall scholar Karen Lee the world's deepest waltz lesson.