Lab Porn: Doomsday!

Behold, the end of the world is at hand!

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They said I was mad– mad!– but now they’ll pay…

Well, ok, it’s not actually a doomsday weapon. It’s a shot of the main experiment chamber in my lab, taken in very low light in an attempt to capture the orange glow of the ion gauge inside the chamber. It only looks like an instrument of apocalypse.

Here’s a better lit picture:

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And here’s one showing a bit of the atomic beam line behind the chamber:

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The large copper coils in the foreground are for the magneto-optical trap, while the longer coil stretching off to the right is the Zeeman slower. The discharge source is off at the far end, and looks sort of like this:

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That’s the source chamber, with the gas inlet to the right, and the beam line out of the frame to the left. The ball of tinfoil in the middle right is the high-tech electromagnetic shielding around the RF coil sustaining the plasma discharge we use to excite krypton atoms to a metastable state (which accounts for the pinkish color of the inlet tube).

There’s a photomultiplier tube mounted at the top of the chamber, as part of an attempt to measure the metastable flux, and the other notable thing about this picture is the highly professional mounting of the PMT, in a chemistry clamp supported by a stand that’s been duct-taped to the table. Hey, it was fast and effective.

(I spent an inordinate amount of time taking lab pictures one day last week. I’ll post them to Flickr eventually, but for now, they’re a good source of filler posts while I’m in Pennsylvania to give a talk at Bucknell…)

Comments

  1. #1 Yttrai
    March 24, 2008

    Oooooh, pretty.

    (Yes, i’m a medicinal chemist now, but i paid for clothes and books in undergrad by working at the MSU cyclotron building pretty particle detectors. Fun stuff. I miss that job.)

  2. #2 PlausibleAccuracy
    March 24, 2008

    That’s quite a scary/awesome looking piece of equipment. For me, however, the duct-taped clamp stand seals it. If you see mad scientists in the movies, this is always one (true) element that is omitted in the staging – the jerry-rigged but functional elements.

  3. #3 marciepooh
    March 24, 2008

    As a structural geologist, nothing in my job compares. Boxes of core just don’t look nearly as scary. (Unless you are the person who has to reshelve it.) And stereonets are only scary to other geologist.

  4. #4 Doug Natelson
    March 24, 2008

    I officially have stainless steel envy.

  5. #5 Neil B.
    March 24, 2008

    Thanks, that’s an interesting shot. Can you get a picture of the device that some scientists thought might actually (really) destroy the world? It was a worry that some LHC experiments would creative little black holes etc. that could eventually eat up the Earth. IIRC some thought weird typological defects thereof might eventually destroy the entire universe as well?

    Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider

  6. #6 Captain Button
    March 24, 2008

    Where’s the Jacob’s Ladder?

    You can’t be a proper mad scientist without a Jacob’s ladder.

    And I happen to know that Union has one in the Physics department, I knew the guys who made it. Unless some fools threw it out.

  7. #7 Romeo Vitelli
    March 24, 2008

    Then again, if you were building a doomsday device, would you actually say so? Maybe this “explanation” that you give is only meant to lull us into a sense of false confidence until it’s too late to stop you.

    What are you really up to, Chad?

  8. #8 CCPhysicist
    March 24, 2008

    1) Who did the vacuum welding?

    2) What is the detector (sure looks like one) above the “source chamber” being held by the ring stand?

  9. #9 milkshake
    March 24, 2008

    Looks like something that came from Los Alamos… “Ve haff vays to make you pray!”

  10. #10 Blaine
    March 24, 2008

    The shiny lab gear is all fine and well…but what REALLY is going on with the duct tape and foil? Hmmmmm?

  11. #11 HP
    March 24, 2008

    Chad’s too modest. Here‘s a picture of him standing beside the chamber.

  12. #12 Chad Orzel
    March 25, 2008

    Captain Button: I happen to know that Union has one in the Physics department, I knew the guys who made it. Unless some fools threw it out.

    Nobody around here ever throws anything out. We might not be able to find it, but if it existed at some point, it’s still around somewhere.

    CCPhysicist: 1) Who did the vacuum welding?

    Kurt J. Lesker. Well, maybe not him, personally, but somebody at the company bearing his name.

    2) What is the detector (sure looks like one) above the “source chamber” being held by the ring stand?

    It’s a PMT assembly, to look for fluorescence from the laser hitting the atoms leaving the discharge source. The idea is to use that to measure the atom flux and velocity distriubtion.

    There’s actually too much scattered light in that position, so I moved it downstream before trying to do actual measurements. And then something else went wrong, and I didn’t get to it, and now I have to do class prep…

  13. #13 big mac
    January 10, 2011

    nice

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