Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Who needs sleep....me!

Working at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource is awesome. You get to image chemical ghosts of past life, using the stunning array of technology at beam-line 6-2. Here, we trip the light fantastic...very, very brightly. The x-ray beam generated is roughly 1 million times brighter than the sun....all courtesy of some protesting electrons being driven around the synchrotron, just below the speed of light.

The 200 meter diameter synchrotron gently hums all day, delivering its monochromatic packages of x-rays that make our work possible. As the intense x-rays hit each atom of our fossils, a characteristic shiver reveals its identity and concentration....very considerate of the said particles.

However, occasionally we 'loose beam'...its as bad as it sounds...and causes all work at the beam-line to halt...but then we start aligning samples, editing notes, updating image files and getting ready for the 'Spear 3 is injecting' message from the control centre of the facility.

It's a cosy little hide-out in our beam line area....its the place where we patiently wait for the next scan line to slowly build a chemical image, line by line, by microscopic line....reconstructing the sentences  once thought lost in the sands of time.

Back to the beam hutch.....a specimen needs turning on the spit!

1 comment: