Wednesday, August 31, 2016

PWN E092- Brookhaven National Labs Summer Sundays Week #3- Brilliant Light, Dazzling Discoveries, The National Synchrotron Light Source

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So this is the second in a three part series about my excursion to Brookhaven National Labs to tour their facilities for 4 "Summer Sundays" Sessions that took place during the month of July. If you're just tuning in, I encourage you to go back to PWN E091, just one episode before, and start there, to get up to speed. We'll be here when you get back.

So, this time, when I went, I brought my mom and my friend who were visiting, and my 2 little kids. Because of this lineup, I didn't hit the lecture. When we got there, first thing we did was go to the cafeteria and hang out over there. Lovely nice open space, with a very friendly staff. Everything at this place is so laid back I love it. And the prices are very reasonable as well. I guess this is where the employees go to eat, so they try and keep the prices down.

From there, the purpose of this week was to feature their synchrotron light source. This system creates light by creating a beam of highly accelerated electrons, which emit light. This has applications in medical imaging, as well as a variety of other, one would imagine classified, applications. With this crew we didn't get to see the light source, but rather went back to the theater where I saw the magic show last time, and we caught the laser show. There was a guy there who was hired, i.e. not BNL personnel, and he was showing us laser light, and how if you shine normal light on a balloon nothing happens, but laser light is so focused, that if you shine the laser light from the laser show on a balloon for more than 2 seconds, it can actually pop it because of the heat generated.

He also explained how the lasers in a laser light show work: there is a single dot formed by the laser, much like one would imagine in a laser pointer. If you move a laser pointer around quickly with your hand, as I'd imagine many of the listers have, you can make a line, or a circle. This laser show moves so fast it can create complex designs such as people, and actually even animate them because it moves so fast. They have three colors for the lasers, red green and blue, which when they all shine on the same point become white light.

He then went into the laser show, where they showed popular songs and did neat laser animations for each. I'm posting the pictures for the laser show on twitter as well as on this blog.

After the show, we pretty much bailed out. I wanted to see the sychrotron, but again, the lineup did not permit, so we rolled out. What I did catch, which I would say is probably the lowest level in terms of the science, is still very engaging. I highly recommend catching this if you're in town on a Sunday in July.

Featured App of the Week: Exploring Mathematics: Sine and Cosine. Because light is a wave, in order to understand this, you need to understand Sines and Cosines. Check out the app as well as the podcast episodes on Sine and Cosine! Also a critical review for the coming school year!