Young woman scientist Park Nahee, makes step to reveal mystery of cosmos
Young woman scientist Park Nahee, makes step to reveal mystery of cosmos
  • 김후연
  • 승인 2010.04.13 00:24
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When Park Nahee(’08, Physics) first arrived on the Antarctic continent, white was all she could see.
Park, who twice spent one and a half months near the South Pole, was one of the two women among 47 participants of the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass (CREAM) experiment in 2004 and 2005. Park was also the winner of the 2007 Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A Young Scientist Award, given by the Vienna Conference on Instrumentation, as a result of her “substantial contributions to the CREAM balloon experiment and outstanding presentation of her duty.”
The CREAM experiment was designed and constructed for the direct measurement of the fluxes of high energy cosmic ray or charged particles coming from the galaxy by using the long duration balloon flight. The balloon experiments took place in the part of the planet where the atmosphere is thinnest in the South Pole.
During the 2004 CREAM experiment, Park was selected to be the final manager of silicon charge detectors which were instruments developed to identify cosmic rays.
“My role was to continuously check whether the detectors were ready for the experiment,” said Park. “Since I entered the Ewha graduate school, I did work related to silicon detectors and I think this was the reason why I was given such responsibility.”
Six silicon charge detectors that Park inspected were sent up into the sky on long duration balloons in 2004. In 2005, four detectors were launched into the sky.
The 2004 experiment marked the beginning of the CREAM experiment which is still an ongoing project in the South Pole region today. On that year, the balloon had stayed up in the air for 42 days, the longest duration in history.
“The most moving memory was the moment when the balloon with the detectors started floating upwards,” said Park.
Apart from experimenting, Park was also astonished by the way people and facilities in the Antarctic region operated to accomplish a variety of scientific tasks.
“For example, the roads in Antarctica are not made of asphalt but of flattened snow,” said Park. “It was astonishing to see a special car going around making way in the snow, day and night.”
But the most impressive moment Park recalls is when she stepped on the Antarctic continent for the first time in her life.
“Everything around was white, or, at other times, the sky took up 90 percent of my vision,” said Park. “It was so impressive it felt unreal.”
White, the color of purity can help describe Park as she calls herself a novice in the field of science despite her achievements at a young age.
“There are many more excellent female scientists who graduated Ewha before me,” said Park. “As for me, I have just started my baby steps.”
In February, 2007, Park was awarded the Young Scientist Award, an award given to scientists under the age 35. 275 young scientists had competed for the award and Park was selected one of the two winners. She was 29 at the time.
“I was very surprised because I did not expect the award,” said Park. “I was most happy to deliver the news to my collaborators.”
As an elementary school student, Park dreamed of becoming a scientist or a musician. But her real passion for science started as she began experiments.
“It was fun to predict the results, and when the results were different I enjoyed thinking about the reasons behind them,” said Park. "The reason why physics is so attractive to me in particular is because there are always reasons for the results which I can track down and check."
Park is now a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Enrico Fermi Institute of the University of Chicago.
Park says that she is enjoying her precious time in Chicago. “I’m not the type of person who thoroughly plans and move accordingly,” said Park. “As for now, my goal is to enjoy the present to the fullest and do the things that I am most capable of doing.”

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