Sunday, 27 May 2012

Heavyweight fossicking....

Much time has passed since we have seen the light of day. Apparently, it is still sunny outside...but walking back to our accommodation at 3am...the sun was conspicuously absent. We have managed to run many samples with a much-reduced beam team (a mere five of us), given funding has been rather tight. We are trying our best to squeeze as much time as possible from the next few days we have left at beamline 6-2 at SSRL.
The samples have been relatively easy to mount (above, Roy Wogelius and I mount some fossils on the smaller experimental stage)...until we got to the largest fossil we have ever attempted to scan. A 60 pound (~30kg) monster of a fossil that needed mounting....on our experimental stage.
We had to place 40 pound counter weights on the back of the experimental stage to balance the accelerating fossil. Thankfully, our over-engineered stage coped with the inertia of our giant slab sliding moving too and fro in front of the 50 micron pinhole. This was a long....long...long scan, some 12 hours that our fossil gently moved from left to right in 50 micron steps, slowly giving-up its secrets locked in the sands (or in this case carbonate muds) of time.

All we can do wait and work. As our latest fossil skips the light fantastic in a beam brighter than a million suns.

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