Tutorials Step 1: Superscan

A First Superscan Tutorial

Superscan is an event display program that allows visual display of Super-K events. It’s not the only existing SK event display, but it’s one of the nicest-looking and easiest-to-use ones. Event display programs are sometimes called “scanners” and looking at events with them is often referred to as “scanning”.

Before you start…

Be sure you took care of the setup described on the setup page, including setting the .tcshrc file.  Also, it would help to have read up some on Super-K, so you know what to expect.

Data Files

Super-K data files that can be read by superscan are usually in a format known as “ZBS”. File extensions for ZBS files are often “.zbs” or sometimes “.dat” (but can be anything). ZBS makes use of a godawful (yet still quite prevalent) Fortran-based data structure management package called Zebra. Information is stored in “banks”; superscan knows how to read various different kinds of banks.

A few example data files can be found in:

On the Duke machines:


On the Kamioka machines:


And, either way, if the instructions on the setup page were followed, the tutorial example files directory should be stored in:


The ones to look at for this tutorial are

  • rfm_run060960.000096.tqr.zbs

    This is an (almost) raw data file with very little selection.

  • patmue.run069486.002.zbs

    This is a file of selected stopping cosmic ray muons.

  • apfit_run0657

    This is a file of selected “fully-contained” atmospheric neutrino events, with reconstructed information.

  • nov11sk4.reduc.233.zbs

    This is a file of simulated (Monte Carlo) atmospheric neutrino events, with reconstructed information.

All these files use the SK-IV configuration, the state the Super-K detector has been in from October 2008 through today (as of 2012).

Running Superscan

Next, you’ll want to run superscan. The superscan executable is


Type this on the command line to start it. You can select a data file to look at by either using the pull-down menu and typing in the filename, or by specifying the filename on the command line, e.g.

$SKOFL_ROOT/examples/superscan/superscan -f yummy_events.zbs

Stuff to Try

  • Take a look at the files listed above. The first one has a lot of low energy events in it, so keep going through events until you’ve seen some interesting looking ones. Scan through a bunch of events. See if you can figure out what the events are.
  • Try time and charge mode, and try turning on charge radius mode.
  • Try spinning the events.
  • Try changing the color scale.
  • Try some of the options, such as different views. Not all of them will work or be relevant for a given file.
  • See what happens when you modify the time window.  You can do this on the “timing gate” slider.  This may be especially interesting for events with decay-electrons.
  • Look at the information printed in the terminal when you move to each new event.  This information is more interesting for files with reconstructed and MC information.
  • For the files with reconstructed information, try turning on and off the fit display.
  • For the MC file, try turning on and off the MC information.
  • See if you can figure out how to create Postscript output for printing.
  • Etc…


If you are ssh’ed into a remote machine like neutrino-01 to run superscan, you may have trouble with the X display on your local machine (which is a client that receives forwarded X11 information from the server where superscan is running).  If you get error messages about missing fonts, on Linux you can try the following to install fonts:

sudo apt-get install xfs xfstt
sudo apt-get install t1-xfree86-nonfree
sudo apt-get install ttf-xfree86-nonfree
sudo apt-get install ttf-xfree86-nonfree-syriac
sudo apt-get install xfonts-75dpi
sudo apt-get install xfonts-100dpi
yum install xorg-x11-fonts-*
depending on your distribution.
Here is a solution to this font issue on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, in a virtual machine on Windows 10 X86 (from Dennis Wu):
The problem for the fonts lies in the default font path for X11. It directs to /usr/share/fonts/X11/misc and /usr/share/fonts/X11/Type1, but not the new installed font folders /usr/share/fonts/X11/100dpi and /usr/share/fonts/X11/75dpi, where we have the helvetica fonts installed for X11. 
If you are having a problem with a Duke workstation, contact problem@phy.duke.edu.