Lab Stories https://www.scienceblogs.com/ en My Week in Waterloo https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2015/06/25/my-week-in-waterloo <span>My Week in Waterloo</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I spent the last few days in Ontario, attending the <a href="https://perimeterinstitute.ca/research/conferences/convergence">Convergence</a> meeting at the Perimeter Institute. This brought a bunch of Perimeter alumni and other big names together for a series of talks and discussions about the current state and future course of physics.</p> <p>My role at this was basically to impersonate a journalist, and I had a MEDIA credential to prove it. I did a series of posts at Forbes about different aspects of the meeting:</p> <p>-- <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/chadorzel/2015/06/22/the-laser-cavity-was-flooded-and-other-lab-disaster-stories/">The Laser Cavity was Flooded</a>: a revisiting of the idea of True Lab Stories, which was a loose series of funny disaster tales from the early days of ScienceBlogs.</p> <p>-- <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/chadorzel/2015/06/23/converging-on-the-structure-of-physics/">Converging on the Structure of Physics</a>: Talks from the first day fitting a loose theme of looking for underlying structure.</p> <p>-- <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/chadorzel/2015/06/24/all-known-physics-in-one-meeting/">All Known Physics in One Meeting</a>: The second day of talk covered an impressive range, from subatomic particles to cosmological distances.</p> <p>-- <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/chadorzel/2015/06/25/making-lampposts-to-look-for-new-physics/">Making Lampposts to Look for New Physics</a>: Tying the closing panel discussion to an earlier metaphor about searching "where the light is" for exotic phenomena.</p> <p>As I said, I'll have some more follow-up next week, picking up and running with a few asides or themes that came up at the meeting. For the moment, though, I'm pretty wiped out, having put in almost 780 miles of driving over the last four days, and staying up late hanging out with science writers and theoretical physicists. So this summary post will have to hold you...</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Thu, 06/25/2015 - 09:04</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/astronomy" hreflang="en">Astronomy</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/conferences" hreflang="en">conferences</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/experiment" hreflang="en">Experiment</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/history-science" hreflang="en">History of Science</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/meetings" hreflang="en">Meetings</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/theory" hreflang="en">Theory</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1648794" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1435249338"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>True Lab Stories are the equivalent of "hangar flying" among aviators, or sea stories among sailors.</p> <p>World Science Fiction Conventions often schedule a panel that's a variant of this, with titles like "Tall Technical Tales" or "Tales from the Tech Shop." Quite popular with the attendees.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1648794&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="ta3zRmBqCMDnTaTHyWqfLUlHJCTYb8AF4zWO8JL7wNE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey">Bill Higgins--… (not verified)</span> on 25 Jun 2015 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1648794">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1648795" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1435272765"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>First time I saw Turok with the "all known physics" equation, I complained that the sqrt(-g) was missing. Now the whole volume element is gone!</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1648795&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="C7QIBLbg0J44g1g36R1JpC1VHNlF8TY46WjGdcsWm8A"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bee (not verified)</span> on 25 Jun 2015 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1648795">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1648796" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1435301692"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><i>True Lab Stories are the equivalent of “hangar flying” among aviators, or sea stories among sailors.</i></p> <p>Except that AFAICT physics does not have a tradition of sending the n00b out to get a bucket of prop wash, or fifty feet of shore line, or something comparable.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1648796&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="RHveXhdZIswq6C_FcyUYKzak0RArLFZFhzZLmUxWx5U"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Eric Lund (not verified)</span> on 26 Jun 2015 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1648796">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="50" id="comment-1648797" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1435304481"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>That's not quite true-- I know of a couple of groups that had a tradition of sending new students to the other group to ask for the BNC-to-Swagelok adapter.</p> <p>(BNC is an electrical fitting, Swagelok a plumbing fitting, for those not in experimental physics.)</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1648797&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="9mJ0TK1BZW4Ncd1w2vpPnllzqTQZoQRtLCYS1LF-qV4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a> on 26 Jun 2015 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1648797">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/author/drorzel"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/author/drorzel" hreflang="en"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/pictures/after1-120x120.jpg?itok=XDhUCPqP" width="100" height="100" alt="Profile picture for user drorzel" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2015/06/25/my-week-in-waterloo%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:04:33 +0000 drorzel 48838 at https://www.scienceblogs.com The Making of a Sign Error https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2013/07/15/the-making-of-a-sign-error <span>The Making of a Sign Error</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>One thing I left out of the <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2013/07/11/the-making-of-squeezed-states-in-a-bose-einstein-condensate/">making-of story about the squeezed state BEC paper</a> last week happened a while after publication-- a few months to a year later. I don't quite recall when it was-- I vaguely think I was still at Yale, but I could be misremembering. It's kind of amusing, in an exceedingly geeky way, so I'll share it, though it's also a story of an embarrassing mis-step on my part.</p> <p>So, the physical situation we were studying is described by the "Bose-Hubbard Hamiltonian": Bose because it's dealing with bosons (there's also a Fermi-Hubbard version, I believe); Hubbard after <i>[mumble]</i> Hubbard, who invented it; and "Hamiltonian" because the central equations used to describe non-relativistic quantum physics are Hamiltonians, a carry-over from classical physics. This is a well-studied system, mathematically, because it shows up when you're thinking about superfluid systems in liquid helium and the like. I read at least a dozen different theory papers looking at the states of a double-well system described by the Bose-Hubbard Hamiltonian.</p> <p>The one thing that these papers all agreed on was that the Bose-Hubbard Hamiltonian is the sum of two terms: one of them describing the energy associated with particles moving back and forth between the two wells, and the other an energy associated with interactions between atoms. As I <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2013/07/10/my-claim-to-scientific-fame-squeezed-states-in-a-bose-einstein-condensate/">described in the write-up of the paper</a>, the competition between these two terms drives everything.</p> <p>What none of these papers agreed on was what to call the parameters expressing the strength of the two terms. There were at least as many notation systems as research groups investigating the question. And, on top of that, when we started writing the paper, we realized we didn't like any of them. So we made up our own-- "we" here meaning mostly me. I picked some symbols that were kind of a mix of various notations that I sorta-kinda liked, and mashed them together to make this:</p> <p> </p><div style="width: 435px;display:block;margin:0 auto;"><a href="/files/principles/files/2013/07/bose_hubbard.png"><img src="/files/principles/files/2013/07/bose_hubbard.png" alt="The Bose-Hubbard Hamiltonian, in the notation I used in the squeezed state paper." width="425" height="50" class="size-full wp-image-8133" /></a> The Bose-Hubbard Hamiltonian, in the notation I used in the squeezed state paper. </div> <p>(It's also the featured image at the top of the post, but I'll go easy on the handful of people still reading via RSS in this post-Google Reader wasteland...)</p> <p>The "a" symbols refer to operations that move atoms around; don't worry about those. The first term in this is the tunneling term, and its strength is set by a single parameter we called γ, which stands for an integral over the wavefunctions of atoms in the two different wells. The second term is the on-site energy resulting from collisions between atoms in the same well, and that's set by a bundle of constants that we separated out to make a point: N is the number of atoms in the system; g is a coefficient describing the strength and nature of the collisional interactions, and β is an integral over the wavefunction occupied by the atoms in a particular well. The definitions of γ and β we stuck in a footnote:</p> <p> </p><div style="width: 516px;display:block;margin:0 auto;"><a href="/files/principles/files/2013/07/gamma_beta_definitions.png"><img src="/files/principles/files/2013/07/gamma_beta_definitions.png" alt="Footnote 13, defining the terms of the equation." width="506" height="75" class="size-full wp-image-8134" /></a> Footnote 13, defining the terms of the equation. </div> <p>We had reasons for doing things this way: a lot of other systems lumped the total number, or the collisional strength, or both together with the integral for β in a way that hid the influence of those things. We wanted them to be separated out, so as to make clear that the interaction depended on the number and the character of the collisions. I picked these symbols, and we started using them for everything. It was yet another notation system introduced for this same problem, but there's nothing in principle wrong with that.</p> <p>The problem is subtle, and I actually missed it when I was setting this up, until I started doing simulations of the behavior of the system: because these two effects are competing with each other, the two terms really ought to have opposite signs. Really, they do, because if you look closely at the definitions, and re-write them in another way, you can show that the value of the parameter I called γ is a negative number. When I was writing code, I got nonsensical results until I stuck a negative sign in front of my values for γ, at which point everything worked nicely.</p> <p>There's nothing in principle wrong with this-- after all, we gave the definition, and people could work out for themselves that γ defined in this manner is less than zero. It is, however, somewhat contrary to the general practice of physics. The usual default is to assign symbols to positive numbers, and pull the sign outside so it's explicitly visible. This comes up all the time in intro classes, where by convention we define the acceleration of gravity near the Earth's surface as g=+9.8m/s/s, and put the negative sign for the downward direction in by hand-- students are forever trying to make g=-9.8m/s/s, and also use the negative sign outside the symbols, leading to nonsensical results involving things rocketing off into space at 9.8 meters per second squared.</p> <p>Well, with my cobbled-together notation, I had managed to define γ to be a negative number, which isn't normally done, at least not without telling people. And, sure enough, it tripped somebody up: some months after our paper was published, I got sent a referee request for a theory paper about BEC in the Bose-Hubbard Hamiltonian, talking about all these cool states you could create. This was from, I believe, a group in China, and I was actually the third referee brought in to settle an argument-- one of the first two referees had pointed out that their results made no sense in a couple of simple limits, and that the whole paper should be thrown out. In their response, the authors started a sentence with "As you can clearly see from Equation 1 of Orzel et al.,..."</p> <p>It turns out, they were using positive values for γ and getting the same nonsensical results I had when I started doing simulations. Of course, I knew what the experiment really looked like, so I found the error quickly; they just assumed that I had known what I was doing.</p> <p>Now, it turns out that the results they were getting do, in fact, correspond to a real physical situation-- where the interactions between atoms are effectively attractive, rather than repulsive. This is the meaning of the g parameter in our equation above, and if you make that negative, it lowers the energy of the system as you add more atoms to a single well. So their calculations were, in fact, reasonable answers, just not for the system they thought they were describing...</p> <p>(By the way, this attractive-interaction system also produces interesting quantum phenomena, in that the ground state of the system is a Schrödinger cat state, with all the atoms in one of the two wells, but equal probability of it being either of the two. To the best of my knowledge, though, I don't believe anybody has done the experiment, which would be tricky for a number of reasons. But kind of cool.)</p> <p>Anyway, as the tie-breaking referee, I had to settle this by pointing out (in the third person, of course) that Orzel et al. were, in fact, dumbasses, who had defined their parameters in such a way as to make γ negative. I did try to lessen the impact by pointing out the cat-state thing, but I don't think it worked. At least, for the little while after that when I was actively following the situation, I never saw a resubmission from those authors re-casting it as a cat-state system. I never heard anything more from the journal, either, so I assume the authors just conceded the point and withdrew the paper.</p> <p>I feel a little bad about that, actually, because it means I'm personally (partly) responsible for what was undoubtedly the very worst week of some poor grad student's life. But only a little bad, because they did, in fact, have all the information they needed to figure out the right answer, and all I did was make it slightly more difficult...</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Mon, 07/15/2013 - 04:11</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/atoms-and-molecules" hreflang="en">Atoms and Molecules</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/condensed-matter" hreflang="en">Condensed Matter</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/experiment" hreflang="en">Experiment</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mxp" hreflang="en">MXP</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/quantum-optics" hreflang="en">Quantum Optics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/theory" hreflang="en">Theory</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/physical-sciences" hreflang="en">Physical Sciences</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1646016" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1373878588"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>If you have never been involved in the rejection of a paper, either as author or as referee, you have lived a sheltered scientific life indeed. I've rejected some, and had some rejected. I don't think any of the papers where I recommended rejection were due to misapplying results from my own papers (apart from the one that copied several paragraphs verbatim from one of my papers--that turned out to be a paper with some original parts, and some true parts, but none of it both). But I did encounter a manuscript where the authors failed to ensure that the argument of a special function was dimensionless (as the argument of anything more complicated than a polynomial must be).</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1646016&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="DLvoCLuXvuMsne740P4P7yXggEzFAsBnXE4cLGzGi8s"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Eric Lund (not verified)</span> on 15 Jul 2013 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1646016">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1646017" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1373895800"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><i>I’ll go easy on the handful of people still reading via RSS in this post-Google Reader wasteland</i></p> <p>Thanks!</p> <p>(I'm using <a href="http://www.inoreader.com/">InoReader</a>. It's not quite mature yet, and it's not <em>exactly</em> like Google Reader was, but it's close enough for me. I recommend it. I may even donate something to them for keeping me from RSS withdrawal!)</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1646017&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="SlL5A-raE6t4gefU6vV_7fQ6F2lfi0UDHns_Hfx6Syc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Wilson (not verified)</span> on 15 Jul 2013 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1646017">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1646018" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1374037394"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>RSS (and Atom) existed before Google Reader, and will continue to exist after it. It remains the easiest way to follow multiple blogs, especially when some of them have low and/or uneven publication rates. There are several RSS/Atom readers. I currently use the NewsFox plugin for Firefox, and Early Edition 2 for iPad.</p> <p>As for the sign issue -- getting back on topic -- I certainly feel for the poor group who misread the paper, and it is a general pain in the back side when each paper has its own idea of notation. However, the form given for gamma conforms with the usual way of writing the single-particle term of a Hamiltonian, so in a way it is a more sensible notation than extracting the minus sign.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1646018&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="B4Q4meybL6SD3NKvaEXCIPJAA35uaz92KcyJBX69skk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dr M (not verified)</span> on 17 Jul 2013 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1646018">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2013/07/15/the-making-of-a-sign-error%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Mon, 15 Jul 2013 08:11:37 +0000 drorzel 48258 at https://www.scienceblogs.com The Making of "Squeezed States in a Bose-Einstein Condensate" https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2013/07/11/the-making-of-squeezed-states-in-a-bose-einstein-condensate <span>The Making of &quot;Squeezed States in a Bose-Einstein Condensate&quot;</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Yesterday's <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2013/07/10/my-claim-to-scientific-fame-squeezed-states-in-a-bose-einstein-condensate/">write-up of my Science paper</a> ended with a vague promise to deal some inside information about the experiment. So, here are some anecdotes that you would need to have been at Yale in 1999-2000 to pick up. We'll stick with the Q&amp;A format for this, because why not?</p> <p><strong>Why don't we start with some background? How did you get involved in this project, anyway?</strong> I finished my Ph.D. work at NIST in early 1999, graduating at the end of May. I needed something to do after that, so I started looking for a post-doc by the don't-try-this-at-home method of emailing a half-dozen people I knew were doing interesting work, and asking "Do you have any post-doc spots available?" (The six were: Wolfgang Ketterle at MIT, John Doyle at Harvard, Dave Weiss at Berkeley (now at Penn State), Thad Walker at Wisconsin, Tom Gallagher at Virginia, and Mark Kasevich at Yale. I actually did a semi-formal application for Ketterle, because an email had gone around about the possibility of a post-doc there; the others were just cold emails.) Mark was the only one who had a job open (though I got one "I wish you'd asked three months ago, because I would rather have hired you than the guy we did get," which was kind of nice), and it sounded like an interesting project, so I took the position. Which worked out really well, because Kate got into Yale Law School, so we were able to continue living in the same city...</p> <p><strong>Other than this being the only job available, what drew you to the project?</strong> BEC was still relatively new at that point, and a lot of the experiments that people were doing with it seemed to be just using the condensate as a big clump of atoms. They were studying things that were basically single-atoms physics, where you were just mapping out the wavefunction by taking a picture of a million individual atoms.</p> <p>There were a few experiments using the weirder quantum properties of the BEC state-- the NIST group was doing a four-wave mixing experiment at the time, and out in Boulder they were starting to look at vortices-- and this was in that vein. The squeezed state results couldn't be obtained just by solving the Gross-Pitaevski equation, which was most of what people were doing at the time, and I liked that idea. I've always been a fan of weird quantum phenomena (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N_tupPBtWQ">doo doo, de-doo doo!</a>), and the squeezed state stuff was right up my alley.</p> <p><strong>So, how did joining this project go?</strong> When I got to New Haven, basically nothing worked. Brian Anderson (now a professor at Arizona) had built the BEC apparatus as a grad student at Stanford, disassembled it and moved it across the country when Mark moved to Yale, then got it back together and did a <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/282/5394/1686.abstract?ijkey=a2769aab374277987a21d3e1e1429eb116efbe86&amp;keytype2=tf_ipsecsha">really nice experiment on putting a BEC in an optical lattice</a>. He had moved on to a post-doc at JILA, though, and things had slowly degraded to the point where the apparatus wasn't reliably making condensates, let alone putting them in lattices. I started in late August of 1999, and spent 6-8 months taking everything apart and putting it back together again. By June of 2000, we were reliably getting condensates in a lattice, and we spent the summer and early fall in intense data-taking. At one point, we were running around the clock, with me and two grad students (Ari Tuchman and Matt Fenselau, co-authors on the paper) taking eight-hour shifts in the lab until the apparatus exploded.</p> <p><strong>Literally exploded?</strong> <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2006/08/31/true-lab-stories-smells-like-n/">Literally exploded</a>. Part of it, anyway. I forget exactly how many fires we had, but it blew up at least four or five times before we got all the data we needed. By September 2000, we were ready to start writing things up. I remember it because I went to a conference in France in mid-September, and I had a draft of the squeezed state paper before I left.</p> <p><strong>The actual paper wasn't published until March 2001. That must've been some tough editorial process.</strong> No, we didn't submit it in September. I just had a first draft then. As is often the case, the writing and internal review process uncovered a lot of stuff that needed to be re-analyzed, and re-re-analyzed, and new data needed to be taken, and on and on. We submitted it in early December 2000, and it was accepted in February 2001.</p> <p><strong>That seems like kind of a long time.</strong> Yes and no. At the time, it felt to me like the slowest process in the history of slow processes. Three months isn't actually all that unreasonable a time to spend on writing things up, though, and I think I hold the all-time record for fastest publication out of the Kasevich group.</p> <p><strong>Why is that?</strong> Mark's a bit of a perfectionist, and wants absolutely everything to be nailed down before he'll send anything off. He also had a wide range of projects going on, and isn't a huge fan of the writing process generally. Getting him to read drafts of the paper and give me comments was kind of difficult. I ended up making a huge nuisance of myself, stopping by his office several times a day, interrupting meetings of other groups within the lab, and that kind of thing.</p> <p><strong>That sounds kind of dickish. Why so intense?</strong> Well, I was in the second year of my post-doc, and applying for faculty jobs. I had nothing to show from the project to that point, though, other than a handful of invited talks, so I really wanted a publication to bolster my CV. I knew this was going to be pretty big, and wanted to be able to list a <cite>Science</cite> paper on my applications. I ended up settling for "submitted to <cite>Science</cite>," and shipping out my applications in mid-December 2000, late enough that I missed a couple of deadlines. So I was kind of a giant ball of stress for the entire process.</p> <p><strong>You do realize that lots of people do multiple post-docs before getting a tenure-track job, right? And end up with less than a <cite>Science</cite> article on their CV's?</strong> Yeah, intellectually, I knew that. But I had come out of the Phillips group at NIST, where post-docs just didn't fail to get good jobs after two years. My view of things was kind of skewed. But look, this isn't about my arrogant job search, OK?</p> <p><strong>Fine. So, can you give an example of some stuff that came up during the editing process?</strong> Well, for example, one of the key points of the analysis ended up turning on a happy accident. We were trying to figure out how to address the inhomogeneous broadening problem beyond the ramp-up-ramp-down experiment, which is complicated enough that people were a little dubious about just that. At some point, I remembered, though, that in doing a different experiment-- looking at the dynamics of the squeezed states following a sudden change-- I had ended up having one of the students do a few runs where we held the atoms in the lattice for a long time at level where the state was a little bit squeezed, but not all that much.</p> <p>I had glanced at the data from that, but was disappointed by the fact that the contrast of the images was kind of crappy, and didn't produce what I wanted regarding the dynamics, so I put it aside. During the writing-up, though, I realized that that showed exactly what we needed-- that when we started with a state that was a little bit squeezed, it stayed a little bit squeezed. If we'd been dealing with just messed-up phases from some technical glitch, that would've gotten worse over the hundred-odd milliseconds we held it for. That became one of the key points in the argument that we really had squeezing.</p> <p>We also spent a week or so going back and re-doing that part of the experiment, when Mark learned that the whole thing turned on two data points from June.</p> <p><strong>OK, that's a nice bit of serendipity. Anything that went wrong during this process?</strong> There was a point in... late October, I think, when Mark talked to Subir Sachdev, a theorist at Yale, about the condensed matter version of this, and got really fired up to re-interpret everything in terms of a quantum phase transition from a superfluid state to a Mott insulator. There was a week or so when he wanted to basically scrap everything that we had written and start over on the whole thing.</p> <p>I tried to run with it for a while, but could just see the whole thing unspooling endlessly into the future, and eventually insisted that we run with the original interpretation, to get the paper out. That was probably a mistake, in retrospect, in that the Mott insulator angle on this problem really took off a year or so later, and is the language everybody uses to talk about this stuff, now. Had we re-written things in that language, our paper might be better remembered.</p> <p><strong>You're bitter that you only have 540-odd citations?</strong> Not really, because the <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v415/n6867/abs/415039a.html">original Mott insulator stuff</a> <a href="http://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=view_citation&amp;hl=en&amp;user=kX5_lc8AAAAJ&amp;citation_for_view=kX5_lc8AAAAJ:u5HHmVD_uO8C">by Immanuel Bloch and Markus Greiner</a> is a really spectacular experiment, and does some thing that are different. They used a 3-d lattice rather than the 1-d lattice we had, which meant that they had 1-2 atoms per site, and the effects are a lot cleaner. Our stuff was never going to be as sharp as that, no matter how we re-analyzed it, so we were better off getting it into print and staking out priority.</p> <p>I do think that we probably had hit the Mott insulator transition, but we wouldn't've been able to prove it. For one thing, one of the factors we were using to convert the lattice depth to the parameters we needed to compare to theory was just wrong, but that error didn't turn up until a couple of years later. I think Ari nailed it all down when he wrote up his thesis, but I don't remember where my copy of that got to.</p> <p>In my darker moments, I occasionally think that we ought to get more credit than we do for being first, but there's a reasonable case to be made that the regime we were working in is sufficiently different from Bloch and Greiner's stuff that they really deserve the credit. Also, they've continued to build on those results, where we really didn't, and that makes a big difference. And, really, it's kind of churlish to be bitter about what was by any reasonable standard a spectacular success.</p> <p><strong>So, once you submitted it, did anything interesting happen?</strong> Mark handled the communication with <cite>Science</cite>, so I don't know much about the editorial process. I don't remember the referee comments particularly, which suggests they were all perfectly reasonable. There was a tiny bit of drama when it turned out that I had made a mistake in normalizing the data for the cool images, but that was a cosmetic thing only, and we cleared it up on resubmission.</p> <p>When it got accepted, we made a bid for the cover of <cite>Science</cite>, putting together the 3-d plot that's the "featured image" at the top of this post, but they had had enough of those by that time, and passed on it. We did get a <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/291/5512/2301.summary">nice news write-up with a dreadful headline</a>, and were mentioned in the <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/294/5551/2443.2.full">breakthroughs of the year article</a>, so I can't really complain about that.</p> <p><strong>So, what happened after this got published?</strong> Well, the other thing we were working on with this system was the dynamics after a rapid change. We would ramp the lattice up to make a number-squeezed state, then drop the lattice down to a much lower level, hold for a while, and release the atoms to get the contrast of the image. When you do that, the system evolves in a way that causes oscilations in the number uncertainty-- you go from a number-squeezed state with low contrast to state that gives very high contrast. You can even, with the right choice of parameters, come up with a phase-squeezed state.</p> <p>This was the thing we were really interested in, in some sense-- the process is basically analogous to sending a squeezed state of light into a beamsplitter, and is the first step toward doing squeezed state interferometry. And Mark's all about atom interferometry. We spent ages taking oscillation data, some of which I'll reproduce here from an old talk slide:</p> <p> </p><div style="width: 510px;display:block;margin:0 auto;"><a href="/files/principles/files/2013/07/squeezed_oscillation.png"><img src="/files/principles/files/2013/07/squeezed_oscillation.png" alt="Oscillation of the interference contrast after a sudden change in the lattice." width="500" height="443" class="size-full wp-image-8121" /></a> Oscillation of the interference contrast after a sudden change in the lattice. </div> <p>Keep in mind, each point on that graph represents one five-minute date-taking cycle, not counting the analysis time, so that's close to three hours of work right there. But it looks pretty nice.</p> <p><strong>And yet, this isn't in the paper. So what gives?</strong> Well, we got tons of oscillation data, but interpreting it turned out to be a miserable slog. This was my one foray into doing theory for an extended period, months of grinding away at Matlab, trying to match the experimental data. We could mostly explain the frequency of the oscillation, and how it depended on the basic parameters, but there was this damping of the contrast oscilaltions that we couldn't quite figure out. And simulating it was a nightmare-- the experimental situation violated all of the nice simplifying assumptions you would like to make. If you only had two wells, the theory was easy, and if you had an effectively infintie number it was easy, but we had about a dozen, which is neither two nor infinite, and turns out to be a nasty problem. Which would be tractable if you had the same number of atoms in each lattice site, except we didn't, because the number of atoms dropped off to zero at the edges of the condensate, and again, rules out a whole bunch of simplifying approximations. I never really got anywhere with the simulations, and about the only thing I learned was that I shouldn't do theory.</p> <p><strong>So, nothing came of it?</strong> Not nothing, no. They kept poking at it after I left, and it eventually ended up as a <a href="http://pra.aps.org/abstract/PRA/v74/i5/e051601">Rapid Communication in <cite>Physical Review A</cite></a> (<a href="http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0504762">arxiv version</a>). They eventually recruited a real theorist to do the simulations, and got satisfactory explanations for most of it. Mark and Ari moved on to other projects, though, so it wasn't a real high priority. The final publication came when I was up for tenure, and sent Ari email asking "Hey, whatever happened to that?" That prompted them to submit the final version, years after I left the group.</p> <p>I think there's some cool stuff there, but it turns out to be way harder to work with than we appreciated at the time. Which is why it got pulled out of the squeezed state paper into its own thing. There's an outside chance that we could've made more of it, but I had gotten a job, and was coming down from being a giant ball of stress for about six solid months (and Mark and I were getting on each other's nerves), so it never came together. I suspect, though, that where it ended up is about as good as it was going to get, because Ari did a great job tying up all the loose ends, and it's just a messy, hard problem.</p> <p><strong>Any final comments? And keep in mind that this is already over 2500 words...</strong> Not really, no. It was a great experience in a lot of ways, and a miserable slog in others. I have to say, I've never felt smarter than I did when we put all this together-- that was a high point of my research career that I'm exceedingly unlikely to ever match again.</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Thu, 07/11/2013 - 03:19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/atoms-and-molecules" hreflang="en">Atoms and Molecules</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/condensed-matter" hreflang="en">Condensed Matter</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/experiment" hreflang="en">Experiment</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mxp" hreflang="en">MXP</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/personal" hreflang="en">personal</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/quantum-optics" hreflang="en">Quantum Optics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/researchblogging" hreflang="en">researchblogging</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/physical-sciences" hreflang="en">Physical Sciences</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1645998" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1373560159"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Ah, nothing like the sharp tang of burned semiconductor to bring back memories of the good ol' days, eh?</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1645998&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="2d7lBXuI9te3-jJj4dl6tOJsSFe--frbonwyrZ9RMYg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Jeff (not verified)</span> on 11 Jul 2013 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1645998">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="50" id="comment-1645999" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1373565403"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>It's like Proust, but carcinogenic...</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1645999&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="T0dS2xB7bJC1OPo07HZ_A_lh93XEdyw6WXTFcj2nwF4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a> on 11 Jul 2013 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1645999">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/author/drorzel"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/author/drorzel" hreflang="en"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/pictures/after1-120x120.jpg?itok=XDhUCPqP" width="100" height="100" alt="Profile picture for user drorzel" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1646000" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1373594053"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>This post is awesome (and the related ones, obviously). It's a pity that things like this aren't the most read posts on your blog.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1646000&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="pTiEn0lMjAevlM1jVLa1RDfdk0IItAZOoH0nwHC9jRY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Tom D (not verified)</span> on 11 Jul 2013 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1646000">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1646001" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1373731863"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><blockquote><p>a nice news write-up with a dreadful headline</p></blockquote> <p>Never, ever try reading <em>Angewandte Chemie</em>.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1646001&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="XdLVkKeSCIXEa00y5kTJRtvECYR5_IAnznWyQh_VfJg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Sili (not verified)</span> on 13 Jul 2013 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1646001">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2013/07/11/the-making-of-squeezed-states-in-a-bose-einstein-condensate%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 07:19:35 +0000 drorzel 48256 at https://www.scienceblogs.com Murphy Violation in Science https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2010/08/02/murphy-violation-in-science <span>Murphy Violation in Science</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Over at Unqualified Offerings, Thoreau proposes an <a href="http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2010/08/01/11509">an experimental test of Murphy's Law</a> using the lottery. While amusing, it's ultimately flawed-- <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy%27s_law">Murphy's Law</a> is something of the form:</p> <blockquote><p>Anything that can go wrong, will.</p> </blockquote> <p>Accordingly, it can only properly be applied to situations in which there is a reasonable expectation of success, unless something goes wrong. The odds of winning the lottery are sufficiently low that Murphy's Law doesn't come into play-- you have no reasonable expectation of picking the winning lottery numbers, so there's no need for anything to "go wrong" in order for you to not win.</p> <p>Of course, Murphy's Law has a long and distinguished history in science-- as an experimental physicist whose basement lab is prone to flooding, I have more experience than I would like with Murphy's Law and its various offshoots. The really interesting cases for science, though, are the occasional violations of Murphy's Law: cases where experiments turned out to work better than they had any reason to expect.</p> <p>The most famous example in my area of physics is probably the "Sisyphus cooling" effect in laser cooling, the explanation of which got Claude Cohen-Tannoudji his share of the <a href="http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1997/illpres/doppler.html">1997 Nobel Prize</a>. The full explanation is a little complicated, but it's a very clear example of something working better than it had any right to.</p> <!--more--><p>The basic physics the lets you cool atoms with laser light (explanation from the early days of this blog: <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2006/07/classic_edition_not_just_air_c.php">part 1</a> <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2006/07/classic_edition_clever_tricks.php">part 2</a>) was worked out using idealized two-level atoms. Of course, as Bill Phillips was famously misquoted as saying, "There are no two-level atoms, and sodium is not one of them." Real atoms have many more than two levels-- there are an infinite number of possible bound states for an electron around an atom, though most of them aren't useful-- and even the two "levels" being considered in most laser cooling experiments are in reality collections of sub-levels each having the same energy.</p> <p>This sublevel structure was known, and exploited to make a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magneto-optical_trap">magneto-optical trap (MOT)</a> using the behavior of the excited state sublevels in a magnetic field. The ground-state sublevels had never really been considered carefully, though, and if asked, most physicists at the time would've expected them to be a complicating factor that would reduce the effectiveness of the laser cooling mechanism.</p> <p>In the late 80's, though, some weird things started showing up in experiments with laser-cooled atoms at NIST. To figure out what was going on, they went back and measured the temperature of their atoms clouds very carefully, and were stunned to discover that it was much lower than they expected. In fact, the temperature was something like one-sixth of the minimum temperature they should've been able to reach using laser cooling as it was then understood.</p> <p>It turns out that, contrary to expectations and in blatant violation of Murphy's Law, the ground-state sublevels they had been ignoring made a completely new cooling mechanism possible. This cooling, it turns out, worked best when the pairs of laser beams doing the cooling had opposite polarization, a condition which also happens to be essential for the operation of a MOT. So, completely by accident, they had set up conditions that got their atoms much, much colder than they had ever expected to see. The much lower temperatures possible with Sisyphus cooling are a big part of what makes laser cooling such a revolutionary technique for atomic physics-- while you could do a lot of interesting physics with atoms at the Doppler cooling limit (the minimum temperature possible without Sisyphus cooling), the Sisyphus cooling mechanism brought a huge and even more fascinating regime of physics into play.</p> <p>There are some other famous examples of experiments that turned out better than the experimenters had any right to expect. The Stern-Gerlach experiment, which is now famous as the first demonstration of <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2010/07/electron_spin_for_toddlers.php">electron spin</a> only worked by accident. The silver atoms they use happen to have a ground state whose only angular momentum comes from a single unpaired electron spin. Most other atoms in the periodic table would've given a much more complicated signal that would've been harder to interpret. They also get bonus Murphy-violation points for initially interpreting their data incorrectly, and for the involvement of a <a href="http://quantum-history.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/eLibrary/hq1_talks/crisis/12_friedrich">cheap cigar</a> in their success.</p> <p>The other classic Murphy violation in physics is the Davisson-Germer experiment demonstrating wave behavior in electrons scattered from nickel, which only worked as well as it did because they broke their vacuum system, and then melted their nickel target in the course of repairing the damage from the break. That's pretty hard to top, really.</p> <p>I'm sure there are others, though. So, what's your favorite example of a Murphy's Law violation in science?</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Mon, 08/02/2010 - 04:34</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/atoms-and-molecules" hreflang="en">Atoms and Molecules</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/experiment" hreflang="en">Experiment</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/history-science" hreflang="en">History of Science</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/quantum-optics" hreflang="en">Quantum Optics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/cohen-tannoudji" hreflang="en">cohen-tannoudji</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/davisson-germer" hreflang="en">davisson-germer</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/history" hreflang="en">History</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/history-science-0" hreflang="en">history of science</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/laser-cooling" hreflang="en">laser cooling</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/murphys-law" hreflang="en">murphy&#039;s law</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/sisyphus-cooling" hreflang="en">sisyphus cooling</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/stern-gerlach" hreflang="en">stern-gerlach</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1637034" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1280739577"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>But you see, your examples CONFIRM the Murhpy's law.</p> <p>After all, the expected results of these experiments should have been negative. But even this went wrong!</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1637034&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="PDh0IKfIUqyK1XPsK4dg9pkTg3xnUglQi4lZA3RrlDU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Alex Besogonov (not verified)</span> on 02 Aug 2010 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1637034">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1637035" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1280740486"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I agree with Alex. Not only did the experiments not match up with theory, but the result of game-changing physics coming out of these examples just goes to show that some people can't even screw up properly.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1637035&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="hLWJrNmOwiJDg2igSEezM1-2DOyFqeKRX9dFOX8KQf4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://blogs.scienceforums.net/swansont/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Tom (not verified)</a> on 02 Aug 2010 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1637035">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1637036" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1280751058"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Mathematicians can <i>prove</i> that Murphy's law is a fact.</p> <p>R. Vakil: Murphy's law in algebraic geometry: badly-behaved deformation spaces, Invent. Math. 164(2006), no. 3, 569-590</p> <p>NB for those who are not in mathematics: <i>Inventiones</i> is one of the top-rank journals in the field.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1637036&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="C1KOFWwhLbB7kTsiSXGSASQkmNfpTOFmexNHhaCgw2I"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Estraven (not verified)</span> on 02 Aug 2010 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1637036">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1637037" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1280802177"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>You can put as many negatives as you want together to end up either positive or negative</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1637037&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="tYbsZVX7e6b6lcU464aXzgHmi5xnSCuK2aVc-J_n0LA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">anon (not verified)</span> on 02 Aug 2010 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1637037">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1637038" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1280838744"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>but you can't put two positives together to make a negative.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1637038&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="YcXWOT9X6j0rL6NfvPbySZ_CX0Q3lJAbjj_wzOJ1c2s"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">rob (not verified)</span> on 03 Aug 2010 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1637038">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1637039" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1280838985"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>yeah. right.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1637039&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="Py2dE4c4m5NEl43mdnBC9qUO75_2MxpNzH5DxvWR5g8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">anti-rob (not verified)</span> on 03 Aug 2010 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1637039">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2010/08/02/murphy-violation-in-science%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Mon, 02 Aug 2010 08:34:19 +0000 drorzel 46764 at https://www.scienceblogs.com Eucatastrophe in Physics https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2010/01/18/eucatastrophe-in-physics <span>Eucatastrophe in Physics</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Before leaving Austin on Friday, I had lunch with a former student who is currently a graduate student at the University of Texas, working in an experimental AMO physics lab. I got the tour before lunch-- I'm a sucker for lab tours-- and things were pretty quiet, as they had recently suffered a catastrophic failure of a part of their apparatus.</p> <p>Of course, there are catastrophic failures, and then there are catastrophic failures. Some dramatic equipment failures, like the <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2006/08/true_lab_stories_smells_like_n.php">incredible exploding MOSFET's</a> when I was a post-doc, are just God's way of telling you to go home and get a good night's sleep before resuming in the morning. It takes a few hours, maybe a full day to patch everything back together, and then you go back to what you were doing before things went blooey.</p> <p>Other failures are a little more... comprehensive. A one-of-a-kind piece of equipment is irreparably damaged, or something too expensive to replace fails and is destroyed. But even these aren't necessarily a bad thing.</p> <!--more--><p>Sometimes, an equipment failure can be the best thing that happens to an experiment. This is particularly true in labs that rely on short-term labor like post-docs (who are generally hired for about two years) and graduate students (who are in a given lab longer, but typically in charge of the experiment for only a few years), where kludgey short-term solutions implemented in order to get fast results can become locked in as new experiments build on the first one.</p> <p>My favorite example of this was in a lab at NIST, where a high-voltage connection leading into a vacuum feedthrough had been made with a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/TL21-Minigrabber-Test-Lead-Set/dp/B0002JJU50">minigrabber lead</a> clipped to a bare wire. This is ridiculously unstable, of course, but the person who implemented the quick-fix had thought of that, and held the minigrabber in place with heat-shrink insulation. It's not quite to the level of <a href="http://thereifixedit.com/">There, I Fixed It</a>, but it's close.</p> <p>Other classics included a couple uncovered when I was trying to reconstruct the BEC apparatus when I was a post-doc. I had a horrible time tracing one particular cable, which was attached to the output of a signal generator, then disappeared under the same signal generator, apparently headed toward something on the far side of the laser table, from which another cable came back to a second box six inches from the signal generator. I couldn't figure out what the damn thing was connected to, though, until I finally unstacked all the equipment and discovered that it was a ten-foot BNC cable coiled up under the signal generator, being used to make a six-inch connection.</p> <p>The other one from that lab was a cable that came from the TTL logic output of a signal generator and went into a T connector, then both outputs of the T were connected to the same digital logic box, the output of which went to drive some other piece of equipment. This was a classic solution to an impedance matching problem-- the signal generator could not drive a 50-ohm input, but the logic box was buffered to drive 50 ohms. So, the signal was split in two, connected to both inputs of an AND gate, producing an identical logic signal with the necessary buffering to drive the 50-ohm device. I think I ended up leaving that as it was, once I figured out why it had been done. I did make a note of it in the lab book, though I'm sure that didn't help the next person to run across it.</p> <p>A catastrophic equipment failure is often a good excuse to fix these sorts of kludges. Since things aren't working anyway, you might as well implement the more stable and safer solution that would've taken too long when you were in the middle of taking data. The rebuilt apparatus after the failure will be better and safer after the disaster than it was before things failed. Or just quieter and less messy, as in the case of my <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2010/01/a_tale_of_two_turbos.php">recent turbopump replacement</a>.</p> <p>The series limit of this sort of thing is the <a href="http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/quantum/davger2.html">Davisson-Germer experiment</a>, which showed that electrons have wave nature. The success of the experiment came about only because of an equipment failure-- Davisson and Germer were bouncing electrons off a nickel surface, and seeing nothing too remarkable, when a glass tube in their vacuum system cracked, venting the system to atmosphere. This created an oxidized layer on the nickel surface, which they cleaned up by heating the nickel up under vacuum. They overdid things a little, though, and ended up melting the nickel surface. When it cooled back down, it formed a single large crystal, rather than the large assortment of randomly oriented crystals they had had previously, and showed clear diffraction peaks when electrons bounced off it. Davisson shared the <a href="http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1937/">1937 Nobel Prize in Physics</a> for this demonstration of the wave nature of the electron.</p> <p>So, sometimes the best thing that can happen to an experimental physicist is the destruction of a vital piece of apparatus. When it's re-engineered and rebuilt, it will be better than ever. That can be hard to keep in mind when you're standing next to the smoking ruin of your lab, though.</p> <p>(The big word in the title is a literary term coined by J. R. R. Tolkien. It's not entirely appropriate, but it amuses me, and that's what really matters.)</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Mon, 01/18/2010 - 05:24</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/experiment" hreflang="en">Experiment</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/history-science" hreflang="en">History of Science</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1633333" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1263819230"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I suppose it's related, though not exactly the same, but; I think the basic electronics skills I picked up in Instrumental Analysis (taught when I was an undergrad by a guy who was big on knowing *how* and not just *why* the machine you were using worked) have been some of the more useful skills I took away from my undergrad chemistry degree.</p> <p>So far I've ended up making our fluorometer my pet piece of equipment (I don't know if this is how it is at bigger schools, but each grad student here has a pet piece of equipment they tend to and help with), and have managed to troubleshoot and fix both fluctuations in the lamp that caused noise in the signal (had to install a UPS; wiring in the room was crap), as well as using a voltmeter to trace the stir motor conking out back to a physical issue (some numbnuts [and I know who, but have no evidence] spilled acetone all over the sample housing and melted a plastic coating that fused the stir bar to the casing).</p> <p>Still need to talk my advisor into letting me take some basic electronics courses when there are no more relevant courses I need to grab, and I'd really like to learn more so I can help more with the equipment.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1633333&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="adeXRBK-u-rVmR3tbEmIpAx7g_FLIvKYRmcwd3QHqgk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">LtStorm (not verified)</span> on 18 Jan 2010 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1633333">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2010/01/18/eucatastrophe-in-physics%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Mon, 18 Jan 2010 10:24:05 +0000 drorzel 46287 at https://www.scienceblogs.com What Keeps Me Up at Night https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2009/11/02/what-keeps-me-up-at-night <span>What Keeps Me Up at Night</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>One of my pet peeves about physics as perceived by the public and presented in the media is the way that everyone assumes that all physicists are theoretical particle physicists. Matt Springer points out another example of this, in <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18041-seven-questions-that-keep-physicists-up-at-night.html">this <cite>New Scientist</cite> article</a> about <a href="http://www.q2cfestival.com/play.php?lecture_id=7976">the opening panel at the Quantum to Cosmos Festival</a>. The panel asks the question "What keeps you up at night?" and as <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/2009/10/physics_and_insomina.php">Matt explains in detail</a> most of the answers are pretty far removed from the concerns of the majority of physicists.</p> <p>But it's a good question even for low-energy experimentalists like myself, as it highlights the differences between the popular conception of physics and physics as it is practiced in the real world. So, what physics-related things keep me up at night? (Obviously, the answer to the general question "What keeps me up at night?" is, in no particular order, SteelyKid, sporting events, paper grading, and <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2009/10/obligatory_reaction_to_the_gat.php">trashy genre fiction</a>.)</p> <p>Here's a partial list of physics-related things that have kept me up late:</p> <p><strong>Taking Data</strong>: One of the common experiences shared by most experimental physicists is that of taking data in the wee hours of the morning. This happens for a lot of reasons-- some experiments are so sensitive that they can only get useful data late at night when there aren't people around causing vibrations, and temperature variations, and turning electrical equipment on and off. Other experiments take a lot of effort to get running, so once they're going, you run them for as long as you can stand it, lest something break when you shut everything down for the night. Still others just require very long integration times-- you need to collect data for many hours in order to get anything useful. And then, of course, there's the pressure to get results <em>first</em>, and beat your competitors into print.</p> <!--more--><p>I've done my share of late-night data acquisition, mostly for a combination of the second and third reasons above. In grad school, the main experiment I worked on took data on 45-minute cycles, which needed to be paired up, so the time for a single useful data set was an hour and a half. That involved a lot of late nights at NIST.</p> <p>As a post-doc, we ran around the clock quite a bit, in large part because the apparatus was very finnicky, and had a tendency to flake out for days at a time. When we got things working, we would just keep taking data as long as possible, usually until <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2006/08/true_lab_stories_smells_like_n.php">part of the apparatus exploded</a>.</p> <p><strong>Writing Things</strong>: I'm a champion procrastinator, and given the opportunity to distract myself, I tend to take it. I've even been known to go to some lengths to create opportunities for procrastination. As a result, most of the things that I've written as a physicist have been written very late at night. When I was writing my thesis, I tended to come in at around 11am, go to lunch with the rest of the laser cooling group, spend the afternoon puttering around and distracting other people, and the finally settle in and write starting at 8-9 pm, after everybody else had gone home, and I had exhausted all my entertainment options on the proto-Web.</p> <p>I've gotten a little better about this since then-- most of the book was written during daylight hours-- but I still find it hard to work when I have easy distractions. This leads to papers and grant proposals being written well after business hours.</p> <p><strong>Brainstorming Solutions to Problems</strong>: Having spent a bunch of time working on slightly flaky experiments (there really isn't any other kind), I've lost a fair amount of sleep while racking my brain to try to think of new things I could do to fix problems. At Yale, I used to routinely think of potential solutions to lab problems while walking home at night, and then spend hours turning those potential solutions over in my mind before going to sleep.</p> <p><strong>Planning Experiments</strong>: The one time I vividly recall being kept up at night by a physics problem, I was trying to do calculations in my head to determine whether I ought to completely and radically revise a grant proposal to do a different sort of experiment than what I had planned. This was a week or so before the deadline, and it had occurred to me that I could use my proposed apparatus to do a slightly different sort of experiment than that described in the many pages worth of proposal that I had already written.</p> <p>I spent a couple of hours lying in bed, trying to do calculations in my head to determine whether I could reach the temperatures and sensitivities required to make the measurements needed. This didn't actually get anywhere-- I ended up having to call a couple of other people on the phone, before deciding that it wasn't a sure enough thing to justify the hasty re-writing-- but it definitely did keep me up at night.</p> <p>So there's a list of physics-related things that have literally kept me up at night. You'll notice that none of them involve particle physics, quantum gravity, or multiple universes-- while the Big Questions are interesting, they're generally too abstract to keep me engaged at the level necessary to keep me up late. If you suggest a way to answer one of those questions with a low-energy AMO physics experiment, I'll happily lose sleep trying to make it work, but absent some tangible connection to empirical reality, I'm just not interested enough to stay up past my bedtime.</p> <p>And that's why I'm a low-energy experimental physicist, not a particle theorist.</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Mon, 11/02/2009 - 05:31</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/academia" hreflang="en">Academia</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/experiment" hreflang="en">Experiment</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/theory" hreflang="en">Theory</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1632024" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1257171740"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>We work in the same way... If there is a problem that I can't get, staring at it on paper doesn't usually help. It is usually the 20 minute walk to the bus, in the middle of the night, or the next morning after staring at a problem that I finally figure out what I'm supposed to do. It's sort of incredible that very, very complex problems can sometimes be broken down in your head easier than they can on paper.</p> <p>And I also seem to start work in the evening and bother people most of the day...but I am keeping up with work somehow...</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1632024&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="Ntyvm4D5s9DsiG76LmfvJio3Ds6_3UprmZANWsW87hM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Steve (not verified)</span> on 02 Nov 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1632024">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1632025" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1257222150"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>"One of my pet peeves about physics as perceived by the public and presented in the media is the way that everyone assumes that all physicists are theoretical particle physicists"</p> <p>Although I agree with you in general, it is The Perimeter Institute for *Theoretical* Physics, so don't they have a right to showcase the type of physics that they actually do at their own festival?</p> <p>Also, I think it is slightly inaccurate to say that your beef is with theoretical particle physics specifically because it seems like cosmologists and general relativity researchers would also fall into the bandwagon that you are describing and these people generally only pull at most an equation or two from QFT. Generally, I think you just mean physicists who study events that happen at scales that are an insanely large number of orders of magnitude away from experiments we can do in the lab. Just because the public thinks that all these people are particle physicists doesn't mean that you should repeat the same mistake.</p> <p>Finally, I don't think it is fair to say that the panel was dominated by theoretical particle physicists. Out of eight panelists you had Zeilinger and White, both of whom are *experimentalists* in quantum information/foundations. It is a shame that White's question was ignored by New Scientist, since it was about climate change and that is something that definitely should be keeping us all up at night much more so than any of the other questions. You also had Kadnoff, who is a condensed matter theorist and was very vocal about not all physics being particle physics. Therefore, the ratio was at least 3 to 5. However, if, like me, you don't count cosmologists as particle physicists then there were 3 people on the panel who are primarily cosmologists so the ratio is 6 to 2.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1632025&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="amIgO9acfsdT3udIUkvjCPY6uTVXqTznRoOSRdS-K0I"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://mattleifer.info" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Matt Leifer (not verified)</a> on 02 Nov 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1632025">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1632026" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1257228928"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><i>Finally, I don't think it is fair to say that the panel was dominated by theoretical particle physicists. Out of eight panelists you had Zeilinger and White, both of whom are *experimentalists* in quantum information/foundations. It is a shame that White's question was ignored by New Scientist, since it was about climate change and that is something that definitely should be keeping us all up at night much more so than any of the other questions.</i></p> <p>My complaint was less with the panel-- which was very good-- than the article about the panel. A good deal of the actual discussion covered practical matters, but the write-up of the panel shifted the emphasis to be almost entirely on more theoretical matters, hence Matt's complaint about the list.</p> <p>Of course, my real goal was not just to bitch about theory, but to use the theory bitching as an excuse for posting experimentalist stories (because, evidently, nobody wants to read that stuff on its own...). I should've been more clear about that, but I was writing this in a hurry between classes.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1632026&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="gnEuWbrRbFKgIxqjvzU2NfVBlvOidV9fnD5N1aI0_50"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Chad Orzel (not verified)</a> on 03 Nov 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1632026">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2009/11/02/what-keeps-me-up-at-night%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Mon, 02 Nov 2009 10:31:56 +0000 drorzel 46064 at https://www.scienceblogs.com My Doomsday Weapon https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2009/10/14/my-doomsday-weapon <span>My Doomsday Weapon</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In the time that I've been at Union, I have suffered a number of lab disasters. I've had lasers killed in freak power outages. I've had lasers die because of odd electrical issues. My lab has flooded not once, not twice, but <em>three</em> different times. I've had equipment damaged by idiot contractors, and I've had week-long setbacks because the temperature of the room slews by ten degrees or more when they switch the heat on in the fall and off in the spring. I had a diode laser system trashed because of a crack in the insulation on a water pipe, that exposed the pipe to moist room air, leading to a buildup of condensation which then dripped all over the laser, leaving behind a thin layer of we-swear-it's-not-asbestos insulation material.</p> <p>I used to think that this was a combination of bad luck, operating on a shoestring budget (relatively speaking), and the undistinguished maintenance history of the building where my lab is located. But now, thanks to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/science/space/13lhc.html?_r=5">Dennis Overbye</a>, I know that it's something bigger. My string of improbable lab disasters is a Message. From The Future. If my experiment ever gets working, it's going to destroy the entire universe, so the very fabric of space-time is distorting itself to ensure that my experiment never gets going.</p> <p>Don't believe me? This is what my apparatus looks like:</p> <p><img src="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/wp-content/blogs.dir/467/files/2012/04/i-0de74fb8b67a2563d904658fbceca06b-sm_wmd_chamber.jpg" alt="i-0de74fb8b67a2563d904658fbceca06b-sm_wmd_chamber.jpg" /></p> <p>Scary, no?</p> <p>Clearly, I deserve not one, but two Nobel Prizes: the Physics prize for whatever brilliant thing I'm going to invent that will destroy the Universe, and the Peace prize for setting up my experiment in such a way that it's possible for gremlin rays from The Future to stop it. I await the Nobel Foundation's call.</p> <!--more--><p>The <a href="http://arxiv.org/abs/0910.0359">arxiv paper</a> on which the whole silly business is based has set the physics blogosphere abuzz. Reactions range from <a href="http://blogs.uslhc.us/?p=2587">resigned sighs</a> to <a href="http://dorigo.wordpress.com/2007/07/21/respectable-physicists-gone-crackpotty/">frank</a> and <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/2009/10/higgs_hates_us.php">open</a> <a href="http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=2373">derision</a>, to an <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/catdynamics/2009/10/lhc_it_is_not_the_future.php">aggreived claim of priority</a>.</p> <p>Sean Carroll, quoted in the offending article, offers a <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2009/10/14/spooky-signals-from-the-future-telling-us-to-cancel-the-lhc/">rather nuanced take on the whole thing</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>At the end of the day: this theory is crazy. There's no real reason to believe in an imaginary component to the action with dramatic apparently-nonlocal effects, and even if there were, the specific choice of action contemplated by NN seems rather contrived. But I'm happy to argue that it's the good kind of crazy. The authors start with a speculative but well-defined idea, and carry it through to its logical conclusions. That's what scientists are supposed to do. I think that the Bayesian prior probability on their model being right is less than one in a million, so I'm not going to take its predictions very seriously. But the process by which they work those predictions out has been perfectly scientific.</p> </blockquote> <p>I think it's kind of a stretch, but things like "wormholes" which aren't all that much more probable have evolved from silly beginnings to oddly respectable topics, so Sean's position probably isn't completely unreasonable.</p> <p>In the end, though, I can't help feeling a little like <a href="http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-october-12-2009/cnn-leaves-it-there">Jon Stewart watching CNN</a>. Yes, there's a tradition of sort of out-there speculation in theoretical physics, and this paper probably fits in that tradition. And yes, people eat this stuff up-- I give it even odds that somebody asks me about it in an airport or a doctor's office in the next couple of weeks.</p> <p>But really, given the limited and shrinking media space for science, I can't help thinking that those column inches could've gone to something better. Even by the standards of far-out physics speculation, this is kind of dopey. Running this in one of the few surviving mass media science sections is a little like devoting a front-page story to <a href="http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/economics-the-final-frontier/">Paul Krugman's theory of interstellar economics</a>, and not running another story about the economy for a week.</p> <p>But, hey, I'm just a guy with an experiment that keeps breaking. At least, as far as <em>you</em> know, that's all I am. I might be the guy who's going to destroy the Universe unless you make it worth my while to do something else... </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Wed, 10/14/2009 - 16:52</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/news-0" hreflang="en">In the News</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/silliness" hreflang="en">silliness</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631713" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255554771"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>OOooo so shiny. I would ask how it works but being a bio wanabe I would havehave no idea of what you are talking about.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631713&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="wecQQtegCNmLc2wRmW_IG_Iwey1FAMZJJGqScT3QC_Q"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">The Backpacker (not verified)</span> on 14 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631713">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631714" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255556003"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Sounds a lot like Timothy Zahn's novella "Time Bomb", published in 1988. It's not one of his better stories.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631714&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="QPo2EUtlln6pCHtzHfxJESRz10hI4KSfuZwXStvPRKQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">William (not verified)</span> on 14 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631714">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631715" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255557438"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>That is a pretty awesome looking bit of apparatus. Though, I must admit, the little pieces of wood are a trifle incongruous. Are they temporary?</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631715&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="YNcYsSaBkOmbf5VIjAUKTVr1Vd0RyuWbFH9-LuLG5E4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">phisrow (not verified)</span> on 14 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631715">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631716" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255557977"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>This post is lacking one key thing: the phrase "let me show you it". Or perhaps I should say, your awareness of all internet traditions: let you show us it.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631716&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="Dcv6ywsM_WmqG2s3mAqkiFaeYhGtzIcjfHNbsaXIBhg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">onymous (not verified)</span> on 14 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631716">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631717" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255563357"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Remember the Niven story, "On massive rotating cylinders and the possibility of global causality violation"? To sabotage the enemy, all we need to do is leak the plans of a time machine to their leadership, which will then be wiped out by the Universe to avoid</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631717&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="sp8BkDq2RbGMywezY4LWVoVUCfQcZWgnfV3_yRGugw0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://nanoscale.blogspot.com" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Doug Natelson (not verified)</a> on 14 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631717">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631718" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255564842"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>We have a saying we like to teach to all the new lab students: wood and black tape on an apparatus means temporary, and you should fix it properly. Wish it were really true ... still have thousands of dollars of electronics propped up on wood blocks in case of flooding, and black tape patching cables.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631718&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="xE3cC7GjJ8Am5OXqnWhR9xYuhGxHoZdG6Vl7S-BFfXg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Patrick LeClair (not verified)</span> on 14 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631718">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631719" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255580584"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>William Dembski <a href="http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/the-end-of-christianity-now-available-at-amazon-com/#comment-337257">had used similar reasoning</a> to explain the problem of evil. Apparently The Fall acted retroactively.</p> <p>Guess what? Nobody takes him seriously either.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631719&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="WQjE9nNQvU517jy4goj-e3rb9Hepxlp3HJvH1OYtD-M"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://network.nature.com/people/boboh/blog" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bob O&#039;H (not verified)</a> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631719">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631720" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255583038"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>What, no duct tape?</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631720&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="jn7agqyTLFYLAzJ3fnyh-LvldMjnjohwr66sSEfk-7M"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://blogs.scienceforums.net/swansont/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Tom (not verified)</a> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631720">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631721" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255586445"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I mentioned this at another site too. I have a different take on the seriousness of the foolish story: I think stories like this one will make it much more difficult to knock down the woo that chopra and others of his ilk spread: "How can you say that about Dr. Chopra - why is he any more foolish than that respected physicist saying ..."</p> <p>Perhaps I over-react, but I'm hesitant to assign an upper bound to the stupidity of some people.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631721&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="Q_fA5GqllqWRVVN1lskSUoHui8u7gYMPeDJIIpxA56w"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">dean (not verified)</span> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631721">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631722" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255590372"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Will that thing turn the universe into a puddle of sticky goo, or is it the Ultimate Freeze Ray?</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631722&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="YnkaJt0s11lYd8IVLOeXUZMaUGgt_AnuQ-xSNN9OOro"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">llewelly (not verified)</span> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631722">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631723" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255593151"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Shouldn't that thing be threatening Princess Leia in a cell somewhere?</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631723&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="NKNgBbIFJgSXqzaMmNOw8DGG1HJECzU2w4XT_L1Yrgg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://jsbowden.livejournal.com/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Jamie (not verified)</a> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631723">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631724" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255594303"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Well, whatever it is it's obviously not complete yet - there's still room to bolt more bits on.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631724&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="xF1XVHkpHPdFlzzWwCRvcxV_wyPecyboPzeTxpBkduc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://1939to1945.blogspot.com" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">NoAstronomer (not verified)</a> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631724">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631725" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255594424"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I find that blue tape gives apparatus a nice visual pop, and it looks more professional than black, duct, or, heaven forbid, masking tape.</p> <p>P.S. Backpacker/bio wanna be - take heart: <a href="http://xkcd.com/520/">http://xkcd.com/520/</a></p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631725&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="lE-6iXQt7lQbE1o3vcENlMNFQJFV7EoOS2vxZWomY8M"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Mike5 (not verified)</span> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631725">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631726" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255596411"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I work on a big UHV system (fills a large lab), and frequently find that when installing or removing some doodad or another, that they invariably tend to look like ray guns. So I always wind up pointing them at the other grad students and going "pew pew" or "rata tat tat."</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631726&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="mn0obIvTV2O9q0EdcQBhQ70Z3SrLXy06x01jHGobyyY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Adam (not verified)</span> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631726">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631727" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255599717"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Don't ask me. I'm the Theorist. My wife is the Experimentalist, who's been teaching Physics labs for over a decade in university, after her PhD, Postdoc, and stints in Industry. I only taught one Physics Lab, technically an Astrophysics Lab. We never blew up the universe, made black hole, or time traveled backwards. I like your Lab Run Amok stories... But am more than dubious about the LHC kerfuffle as Bad Sci-Fi.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631727&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="rpsYm19plh4eFNag2zZnuDSHD0sJtk4ZxGG8cNHLd60"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://magicdragon.com" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Jonathan Vos Post (not verified)</a> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631727">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631728" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255599757"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><i>?That is a pretty awesome looking bit of apparatus. Though, I must admit, the little pieces of wood are a trifle incongruous. Are they temporary?</i></p> <p>No. They're just shims to hold the coils in place. I probably could've made something nicer out of plastic, but that would've required more time in the machine shop.</p> <p><i>Well, whatever it is it's obviously not complete yet - there's still room to bolt more bits on.</i></p> <p>Exactly. It's not just scary-looking, it's versatile!</p> <p><i>I mentioned this at another site too. I have a different take on the seriousness of the foolish story: I think stories like this one will make it much more difficult to knock down the woo that chopra and others of his ilk spread: "How can you say that about Dr. Chopra - why is he any more foolish than that respected physicist saying ..."</i></p> <p>I think that is a concern. Though Chopra and his ilk have no problem finding ways to spin much more serious physical ideas into quackery, so it's not like not running this story would slow them down at all.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631728&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="GPNhXY_bU4uxwcTxl0PbXx4aZZ_iEkoDPkH16G9tQUk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Chad Orzel (not verified)</a> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631728">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631729" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255603926"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Chad. Chad, Chad, Chad.</p> <p>See, your experiment is always having improbable disasters, in THIS universe.</p> <p>In innumerable other universes it worked first time, you already won the Nobel Prize and are far too busy giving invited talks, spending your Prize money and generally whooping it up to have any time to blog.</p> <p>So... the fact that we are reading about it on your blog, is selecting all us readers, and you, to be in the rare fraction of multiverses in which your experiment keeps failing for improbably reasons. </p> <p>Much simpler.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631729&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="C1FBwX7Cmfs8KGnzLX3R-20HB7aa65Tyv4eiXh4FmGc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://scienceblogs.com/catdynamics" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Steinn Sigurdsson (not verified)</a> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631729">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631730" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255609488"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I also want to praise the use of bits of wood in your design.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631730&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="r-j2-M7-HYpTd67Hcrk3mnZUDrKWzZdA2ing50p8pR4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">CCPhysicist (not verified)</span> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631730">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631731" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255617562"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>What the hell does that thing do. It looks like it belongs in a computer game. Am I going to have to learn to fight something from another dimension when you turn that thing on. Where is Doctor Who when you need him.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631731&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="FbL-OPiR_zguVUS3_V4XTxfv1fgywnxUgY2IzebpWi0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Doug Little (not verified)</span> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631731">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631732" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255628815"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Man, I'm jealous. None of the gear I get to use looks anywhere near that cool.<br /> But then, I'm a chemist, not a physicist.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631732&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="_LKL84E4KxoNU62Us_EeOPs36R23oQehS7jr-SGWppk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Elijah (not verified)</span> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631732">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631733" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255643735"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Wow, Boing Boing doesn't even get pictures of stuff like that!</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631733&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="SZ2mwgbkFbJenEPnCh5o-GgYwG2Dh85tMF_7gEKLYK8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kaleberg (not verified)</span> on 15 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631733">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631734" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255669082"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Your invention didn't ring any bells with me, so you definitely qualify for the No Bell prize....</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631734&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="Mby_X9rG_1q-yKxo7cn81kCGdlVbhDwWUK_vOQq-k-U"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">IanW (not verified)</span> on 16 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631734">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631735" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255821092"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Could you be more explicit about what it is you're trying to accomplish? Too late on a Saturday for my feeble mind to work out and I don't feel like clicking a hundred links. I looked at the arxiv abstract, but I still don't grok it. Infinite thanks.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631735&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="6yIMqPO7UWxg_kCYturF4gGGo_oxEZneBMNcJAxUgzs"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Adam H (not verified)</span> on 17 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631735">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631736" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255825023"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The wooden shims you're using for the coil appear to be unseparated chopsticks from Chinese takeout. Excellent. :D</p> <p>What do you suppose the chance of a resonance cascade is once you achieve full operation of your device? Do you have a crowbar handy?</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631736&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="qdZ-QUymBCVJsZdxFbgz6IhsT5c1EVgvnTqaf5OgtWk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Rob Moser (not verified)</span> on 17 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631736">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631737" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255854993"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Teresa says if you ever take that thing apart, she wants the copper wire, in order to make an awesome pair of steampunk goggles.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631737&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="n2fH2jn4whOYTMAYYtzdcqPxZ6BTzGaJDvOr4hbALdY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="Patrick Nielsen Hayden">Patrick Nielse… (not verified)</a> on 18 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631737">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631738" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255856157"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I like the wooden shims. They add narrative verisimilitude. Without them, it would just be a big shiny piece of lab equipment. With them, it's a big shiny piece of lab equipment *in progress,* which makes it much more interesting.</p> <p>Mega-cool, in any event. I covet it. You don't need a steampunk/mad scientist costume at Halloween. You can just pin a photo of your experimental apparatus where a name badge would normally go.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631738&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="llNv5lKBz-87KEaXBIWy8hJNvJA1urx4xx2JiXdfYwY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="Teresa Nielsen Hayden">Teresa Nielsen… (not verified)</a> on 18 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631738">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631739" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255856311"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Whoops, Patrick commented first. It's all true, except I also covet those cylindrical extrusions.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631739&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="bGvI6pMCV6uk-NdlQ2X5xbLdf1ilcO5BoVd4apINemw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="Teresa Nielsen Hayden">Teresa Nielsen… (not verified)</a> on 18 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631739">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631740" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255893918"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Where do you put the water in, and where does the expresso come out?</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631740&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="QNWLHrbFjdRzMZp0mk_YRgzgeF31HH_QNFnOudqgHE0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://undulantfever.blogspot.com/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bruce Arthurs (not verified)</a> on 18 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631740">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631741" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1255894417"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>This is the kind of thing movie set designers struggle to imitate when they represent lab apparatus. Some do it badly, some do it well.</p> <p>Visitors often tell us our <a href="http://www-bd.fnal.gov/public/proton.html">Cockcroft-Walton electrostatic accelerators</a> look like "something out of a science fiction movie." Well, sure. They're 1930s technology. When moviemakers portrayed laboratories in the 1930s, they copied the knobby look of state-of-the-art high-voltage equipment like this.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631741&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="ilUGR7AHPNy1yh11fFDPxpzjwSs6hnayvT7lzAroiSg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://beamjockey.livejournal.com" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey">Bill Higgins--… (not verified)</a> on 18 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631741">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1631742" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1256652518"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>If anything needs to be built into a very large tesla coil it's that.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1631742&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="oziXh7QnoIpLu944qqUFUFaufywh6f7oys1Ppz1HcaU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://sexysecretarysite.com/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">agentzee (not verified)</a> on 27 Oct 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1631742">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2009/10/14/my-doomsday-weapon%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Wed, 14 Oct 2009 20:52:37 +0000 drorzel 46016 at https://www.scienceblogs.com We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges, But We Do Have Some https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2009/06/12/we-dont-need-no-stinkin-badges <span>We Don&#039;t Need No Stinkin&#039; Badges, But We Do Have Some</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Dave Ng has recently upgraded the <a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/">Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique</a> site, which provides a variety of achievement badges for members to claim and post. I'm not a big one for extra graphics on the blog (they delay the loading of the cute baby pictures), but if you're into goofy stuff, they've got some fun options.</p> <p>For the record, the badges I can claim include:</p> <!--more--><ul><li><a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/the-i-blog-about-science-badge/">I Blog About Science</a> (duh)</li> <li><a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/the-has-frozen-stuff-just-to-see-what-happens-badge-level-iii/">Has Frozen Stuff Just to See What Happens (Level III)</a> (liquid nitrogen is cool)</li> <li><a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/the-worship-me-i%e2%80%99ve-published-in-nature-or-science-badge/">Worship Me, I've Published in <cite>Nature</cite> or <cite>Science</cite></a></li> <li><a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/the-experienced-with-electrical-shock-badge-level-iii/">Experienced with Electrical Shock (Level III)</a> (I brushed against the ~1kV electrode on the plasma discharge source about three times in one week when I was in grad school)</li> <li><a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/the-i%e2%80%99ve-set-fire-to-stuff-badge-level-iii/">I've Set Fire to Stuff (Level III)</a> (Thankfully, not including myself)</li> <li><a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/the-science-deprives-me-of-my-bed-badge-level-i/">Science Deprives Me of My Bed (Level I)</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/the-i-somehow-convince-someone-to-part-with-a-lot-of-money-for-science-badge/">I Somehow Convinced Someone to Part With a Lot of Money for Science (Level I)</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/the-quantum-mechanics-i-soooo-get-it-badge/">Quantum Mechanics: I Soooo Get It</a> (I don't, really, but the dog does.)</li> </ul><p>They've got a bunch of other <a href="http://www.scq.ubc.ca/sciencescouts/hello-world/">new developments</a>, too (Twitter and Facebook, etc.). So if you're looking for a fun, low-impact Friday morning time-waster, you could do a lot worse.</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Fri, 06/12/2009 - 03:27</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/blogs" hreflang="en">Blogs</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1628537" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1244799822"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Yeah, can't say I find the graphics too compelling either.</p> <p>I guess I qualify for</p> <p>I Blog About Science (No, really)<br /> Has Frozen Stuff Just to See What Happens (Level III) (Plenty of liquid nitrogen in the lab next to where I graduated)<br /> Experienced with Electrical Shock (Level III) (You can have fun with an aquarium, believe me. Not to mention electric fences.)<br /> The âIâve done science with no conceivable practical applicationâ badge. (Harharhar).<br /> The âsomewhat confused as to what scientific field I actually belong toâ badge.<br /> The âworldâs foremost expert on an obscure subjectâ badge. (Antigravitation, anybody?)<br /> The âIâve set fire to stuffâ badge (LEVEL I). (Well, who hasn't)<br /> The âhas done science whilst under the influenceâ badge.<br /> The âI somehow convinced someone to part with a lot of money for scienceâ badge (LEVEL II). (Though I then had to decline it, two times, does that count?)</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1628537&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="caT-eHwtWmmW5J1BU7r6ZjG4QExzIaUxU9TWpVS5xL8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://backreaction.blogspot.com/" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Bee (not verified)</a> on 12 Jun 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1628537">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1628538" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1244804216"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>I third the comment about less-than-compelling graphics.</p> <p>My badges:<br /> The "I've somehow convinced someone to part with a lot of money for science" (Level I) badge (small NSF grant)<br /> The "Science deprives me of my bed" (Level III) badge (five weeks in Fairbanks in the middle of winter for a rocket campaign)<br /> The "Astronaut" (Level II) badge (have worked with space flight hardware, including installing it on the spacecraft)<br /> The "Non-explainer" (Level I) badge (Mom doesn't try to understand what I do for a living)<br /> The "I build robots" (Level II) badge (modern space flight hardware qualifies)<br /> The "I AM actually a freaking rocket scientist" badge (see above)<br /> The "I've set fire to stuff" (Level I) badge<br /> The "I'm into telescopes astro" (Level I) badge<br /> The "Somewhat confused as to what scientific field I actually belong to" badge [(astro)(geo)physics, or something like that]<br /> The "Experienced with electrical shock" (Level III) badge (inevitable if you play often enough with high voltage)<br /> The "Has frozen stuff just to see what happens" (Level III) badge (had a summer job in a lab that used liquid nitrogen)</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1628538&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="amOwdPrhpN7sbASvD2u-8HNQoXzXccLYQZrtABWf2J0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Eric Lund (not verified)</span> on 12 Jun 2009 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1628538">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2009/06/12/we-dont-need-no-stinkin-badges%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Fri, 12 Jun 2009 07:27:51 +0000 drorzel 45608 at https://www.scienceblogs.com The Metastable Xenon Project https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/10/04/the-metastable-xenon-project <span>The Metastable Xenon Project</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Over the past several weeks, I've written up <a href="http://researchblogging.org">ResearchBlogging</a> posts on each of the papers I helped write in graduate school. Each paper write-up was accompanied by a "Making of" article, giving a bit more detail about how the experiments came to be, what my role in them was, and whatever funny anecdotes I can think of about the experiment.</p> <p>If you haven't been following the series, or would just like a convenient index of the posts, here's the complete set:</p> <ul><li><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/08/peerreviewed_egoboo_the_metast.php">Introduction</a> and explanation of metastable xenon.</li> <li>Experiment 1: <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/08/optical_control_of_ultracold_c.php">Optical Control of Ultracold Collisions</a> and the <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/08/the_making_of_optical_control.php">making thereof</a>.</li> <li>Experiment 2: <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/08/suppression_and_enhancement_of.php">Suppression and Enhancement of Collisions in Optical Lattices</a> and the <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/08/scooped_or_the_making_of_suppr.php">making thereof</a>.</li> <li>Experiment 3: <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/08/timeresolved_studies_of_ultrac.php">Time-Resolved Studies of Ultracold Ionizing Collisions</a> and the making thereof: <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/08/a_oneafternoon_experiment_the.php">part 1</a>, <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/08/best_referee_report_ever_the_m.php">part 2</a>.</li> <li>Experiment 4: <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/09/spin_polarization_and_quantum.php">Spin polarization and quantum statistical effects in ultracold ionizing collisions</a> and the <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/09/quantum_mechanics_is_magic_the.php">making thereof</a>.</li> <li>Experiment 5: <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/10/creation_of_an_ultracold_neutr.php">Creation of an Ultracold Neutral Plasma</a> and the <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/10/the_making_of_creation_of_an_u.php">making thereof</a>.</li> </ul><p>So, if you've ever wanted to know why they gave me a Ph.D. in the first place, there's your answer, in great detail.</p> <p>I may or may not continue this with an explanation of the work I did as a post-doc, on Bose-Einstein Condensates in optical lattices. That work is a good deal more technical, though, so it'll take some doing.</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Sat, 10/04/2008 - 04:09</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/academia" hreflang="en">Academia</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/experiment" hreflang="en">Experiment</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mxp" hreflang="en">MXP</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1622858" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1223123218"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Thank you for writing this series of posts. They've been very interesting to read.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1622858&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="klztlHR46gieTTUfq-5HXtRJrC75gLKb4fx_B6WbUK0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Richard (not verified)</span> on 04 Oct 2008 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1622858">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1622859" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1223123414"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Thank you for writing this series of posts. They've been very interesting to read.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1622859&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="HI9VOKKfz8dsFLrAGuxFT3b9v2Bt2LYtMGx_1XDpx8k"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Richard (not verified)</span> on 04 Oct 2008 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1622859">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1622860" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1223139483"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Yes, thank you very much for writing these. Very interesting for someone such as myself still in high school, wondering what might be ahead.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1622860&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="6BJwu4UIpZtWZDihjv8h0pYeRo-l6fNsSVHv6qBJQ7k"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">harriss kol (not verified)</span> on 04 Oct 2008 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1622860">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1622861" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1223204731"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Great post! If I didn't suck at math (because of my ADD) I would be a scientist, instead of a artist. Ultracold Collisions sound really intresting. We all grown up with the fact that collisions of things normally heat up. On a side note I was pondering the idea that Time and Space are the same thing, but I can visulize it but i cant prove it with the math....</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1622861&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="9ALxfYbj7w3GCmVEdJaa1RsJ8WmwhBZvU4xhmn_L0OU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Christopher Guerra (not verified)</span> on 05 Oct 2008 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1622861">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2008/10/04/the-metastable-xenon-project%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Sat, 04 Oct 2008 08:09:00 +0000 drorzel 44861 at https://www.scienceblogs.com The Making of "Creation of an Ultracold Neutral Plasma" https://www.scienceblogs.com/principles/2008/10/02/the-making-of-creation-of-an-u <span>The Making of &quot;Creation of an Ultracold Neutral Plasma&quot;</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>As mentioned in the previous post, the cold plasma experiment was the last of the metastable xenon papers that I'm an author on. My role in these experiments was pretty limited, as I was wrapping things up and writing my thesis when the experiments were going on.</p> <p>The main authors on this were Tom Killian, now <a href="http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~killian/">running his own cold plasma lab at Rice</a> and Scott Bergeson, now <a href="http://www.physics.byu.edu/faculty/bergeson/bstudents/default.htm">running his own cold plasma lab at BYU</a>. Scott was a pulsed-laser expert with a remarkably cavalier attitude toward things like anti-reflection coatings on vacuum windows, and Tom came from Dan Kleppner's hydrogen BEC project, with the very methodical approach you would expect from them. Scott got the laser tuned up and kept it running, and Tom's the one who really nailed down the model of what was going on. Simone Kulin was another post-doc on the project, and Luis Orozco was on sabbatical from Stony Brook that year, working in our lab.</p> <p>My role in this project was pretty much to be a reference for the quirks of the xenon apparatus. I was writing up my thesis at the time, and had pretty much shifted my schedule back by 3-4 hours-- I would come in just before lunch, spend the afternoon reading over the previous night's drafts, answering occasional questions, and procrastinating like a mad thing by talking to anyone foolish enough to make eye contact. After everyone else went home, I would buckle down and write and revise the thesis, often until four in the morning, when I'd go home and collapse for a few hours before starting over.</p> <p>At this point, I had been working on the xenon project for almost six years, so I knew all the ins and outs of the apparatus. The others knew how to work it, but there were occasional weird issues that would pop up to hamper the operation of the trap, and they usually turned out to be things I had seen before. I also took part in the paper torture, and the discussions of the model of plasma formation, which made a nice change of pace from thinking about the same collisional physics problems over and over.</p> <p>As a result of my detached state, I don't have that many stories of the making of this experiment. A couple of amusing anecdotes do come to mind, though:</p> <!--more--><p>One is a sort of joke that you have to be a physicist to really appreciate. When we started doing these experiments, we used the same ion detector that we had been using for the collision experiments, which was way off on one edge of the chamber, and not particularly optimized for efficient detection. We got good signals out of it, but since we needed to put field plates in anyway, we rigged up a new system that put the detector immediately above the trap, in the center of the chamber.</p> <p>At which point, all the signals started to look like crap, because we were absolutely killing the detector. At one point as we were trying to figure out how to proceed, I called the manufacturer, and told them what was going on. "What's the count rate?" they asked. "About 10<sup>8</sup> per second," I replied.</p> <p>There was silence. "For how long?"</p> <p>"About eight hours a day, give or take. That's our base rate."</p> <p>Another long pause. "And it still works?"</p> <p>We ended up switching out of pulse-counting mode, and turning the detector voltage way down, lowering the efficiency, and getting us back to a regime where the detector behaved nicely. At around this time, I was at a meeting talking to a bunch of people from other groups, and said something like "Yeah, we've been having a miserable time with the experiment, because the signal rate is so high, it's killing our detectors."</p> <p>I think I was lucky to get out of there without being physically beaten. Telling a bunch of physicists "The signal we're looking for is way too <strong>big</strong> to measure" is not a way to make yourself popular.</p> <p>The other memorable thing was an equipment failure, in the pulsed laser. The laser we used was a Nd:YAG laser, which produces pulses of light at about 1064 nm. This was focussed into a crystal to double it to 532 nm, and then into another crystal to generate the third harmonic in the UV, which then pumped a dye laser to make tunable light at 514 nm. Each of these steps is a low-efficiency process, so we needed to start with a pretty high pulse energy-- nothing all that huge by pulsed-YAG standards, but more concentrated energy than us CW-laser types were used to.</p> <p>This was driven home for us the day that a gasket in the cooling system failed. The gasket failure let water leak out inside the laser, and it formed a little waterfall over the face of the YAG rod. This acted like a little lens, and brought the 1064 nm light to a focus on the edge of one of the laser mirrors, which physically blasted the mirror out of its mount. When we shut the laser down, and looked inside, the mirror was twisted halfway around, and barely held from falling into the puddle of water in the bottom of the case.</p> <p>It's a good demonstration of how much punch those lasers pack into a hundred nanosecond pulse...</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/drorzel" lang="" about="/author/drorzel" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">drorzel</a></span> <span>Thu, 10/02/2008 - 05:17</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/experiment" hreflang="en">Experiment</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lab-stories" hreflang="en">Lab Stories</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mxp" hreflang="en">MXP</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1622808" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1222950536"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p><i>Telling a bunch of physicists "The signal we're looking for is way too big to measure" is not a way to make yourself popular.</i></p> <p>Unless your name is James Van Allen. The reason the radiation belts are named after him is because he realized his Geiger counter experiment on Explorer 1 was saturating. In retrospect the Russians had probably seen it in the early Sputnik data, but they thought it was an instrument failure. With most space experiments, you can't do mechanical tweaks after launch.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1622808&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="QfqmKDir-W3BVwyOuezJARmaH0SycGkT3WYr2EeIiGU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Eric Lund (not verified)</span> on 02 Oct 2008 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1622808">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1622809" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1222954450"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Proposal for solid-state particle detector based on latchup effect<br /> Gabrielli, A.<br /> Electronics Letters<br /> Volume 41, Issue 11, 26 May 2005 Page(s): 641 - 643<br /> Digital Object Identifier 10.1049/el:20058364<br /> Summary:A novel approach to detect particles by means of a solid-state device susceptible to latchup effects is described. The stimulated ignition of latchup effects caused by external radiation has so far proven to be a hidden hazard. This is proposed as a powerful means of achieving the precise detection and positioning of a broad range of particles with a spatial resolution of 5 μm.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1622809&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="A4F99ToFSFi-rmiUXGjntG_DPL4vs3ZR87FF5c7XEz8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <a rel="nofollow" href="http://magicdragon.com" lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Jonathan Vos Post (not verified)</a> on 02 Oct 2008 <a href="https://www.scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/11548/feed#comment-1622809">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/principles/2008/10/02/the-making-of-creation-of-an-u%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:17:16 +0000 drorzel 44855 at https://www.scienceblogs.com