Lab Stories

Category archives for Lab Stories

The Making of a Sign Error

One thing I left out of the making-of story about the squeezed state BEC paper 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…

Yesterday’s write-up of my Science paper 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&A format for this, because why not? Why don’t we start with some…

Murphy Violation in Science

Over at Unqualified Offerings, Thoreau proposes an an experimental test of Murphy’s Law using the lottery. While amusing, it’s ultimately flawed– Murphy’s Law is something of the form: Anything that can go wrong, will. Accordingly, it can only properly be applied to situations in which there is a reasonable expectation of success, unless something goes…

Eucatastrophe in Physics

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…

What Keeps Me Up at Night

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 this New Scientist article about the opening panel at the Quantum to Cosmos Festival. The panel…

My Doomsday Weapon

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 three different times. I’ve had equipment damaged by idiot contractors, and I’ve had…

Dave Ng has recently upgraded the Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique 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…

The Metastable Xenon Project

Over the past several weeks, I’ve written up ResearchBlogging 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…

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. The main authors on this were Tom Killian,…

This was the last of the experiments that I did for my thesis (it’s not the last xenon paper I’m an author on, but the work for that one was done while I was writing up), so my memories of it are bound up with the thesis-writing process. My favorite story about this stuff was…