Community invited to learn more about South Pole “IceCube” project

UW-Sheboygan to showcase Antarctic telescope research project
By UW-Sheboygan

Spring is coming to Wisconsin but Sheboygan is gearing up to learn about an exciting experiment in one of the coldest environments on Earth—the IceCube neutrino detector at the South Pole in Antarctica. IceCube has transformed the South Pole ice into a telescope looking for mysterious particles called neutrinos.

On Tuesday, April 22, scientists and staff from the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center, or WIPAC, will be on campus to talk about how and why IceCube was built, what it is like to work at the South Pole, and what information neutrinos can provide about some of the most extreme events in the universe.  Events will be held throughout the day at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan.  All activities are free, open to the public, and appropriate for all ages.

Starting at 11 a.m., hands-on activities will be set up in the Wombat Room (2114 in the Main Building), followed by an hour-long presentation at noon by Jim Madsen, the associate director for education and outreach at WIPAC.  From 5-6 p.m., hands-on activities will again be offered in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building before the 30-minute film Chasing the Ghost Particle: From the South Pole to the Edge of the Universe about IceCube is shown in the theater.

Hands-on activities will include using hot water to drill into ice blocks, trying on official South Pole gear, and classifying particles through an online program.  The activities will give children and adults an opportunity to interact directly with South Pole staff and researchers.  This event is one of UW-Sheboygan’s various community outreach activities scheduled for Earth Day, April 22, 2014.

“We are excited to describe the incredible research going on at the South Pole and provide some hands-on activities that help explain what we are doing,” says Madsen. “The story of how we constructed IceCube is amazing, and is surpassed only by the extreme environments that produce the high-energy particles we search for.”

The evening events will be a great opportunity for learners of all ages to broaden their horizons in engineering, particle physics, and South Pole science.  The IceCube film Chasing the Ghost Particle features video footage from the South Pole and exciting animations that take viewers deep inside the South Pole ice and out to the edges of the galaxy.  See the Ghost Particle trailer here.

The visit to Sheboygan is part of a statewide project funded by WIPAC and the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment.  The project celebrates the Wisconsin connection to IceCube and gives back to the colleges and communities that made construction of IceCube possible.

It took more than a decade and the efforts of an international collaboration of scientists, engineers, and technicians to design, test, and build IceCube, which collects evidence of ghost-like particles called neutrinos.  The worldwide effort is supported by the National Science Foundation and rooted squarely in Wisconsin, with key partners at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and staff and suppliers from around the state.

Note: UW-Sheboygan’s spring concert will follow this presentation of Chasing the Ghost Particle in the Fine Arts Theatre at 7 p.m.  Guests are also welcome to stay and purchase tickets to attend the performance of the UW-Sheboygan Chorus and Jazz Ensemble.

Admission to the IceCube presentation and the evening film are FREE and open to the general public.  For more information, please contact Carrie Hoppe, UW-Sheboygan Marketing and Communications Director, at (920) 459-6612 or




Carrie Hoppe, UW-Sheboygan Marketing and Communications Director