One day while attending graduate school at Cornell, physicist Eve Vavagiakis returned home from her particle physics class with neutrinos on her brain. Imprisoned by the peculiarities of these mysterious particles and excited to learn the science behind them, she noted a rhyme: “I am a neutrino, and I am so small that matter hardly matters to me.”
The rest of the poem came easily to her. Soon, she got a few dozen lines that captured a puzzle that particle physicists are still working on, with a friendly voice simple enough for a child. She published her poem on March 22 as “I’m a Neutrino: Tiny Particles in a Big Universe,” a picture book that introduces children (and adults) to neutrinos, small particles that have an overall effect on the universe.
As a postdoc at the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-Based Sciences and Education – and soon a National Science Foundation Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoc Fellow – Vavagiaki is doing research that reflects the concepts in her book. She is leading the development of Mod-Cam, a first light instrument for the Fred Young Submillimeter Telescope. She designed the instrument as a PhD student to take pictures of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and sub-millimeter sky. Vavagiakis’ scientific understanding is reflected in her picture book illustrations, drawn by her mother, Ilze Lemesis, a professional artist.
Read the full story on the College of Arts and Sciences website.