Closing Day, Imaginary Technology

So it's a bit after midnight and at this point I'm mostly still in the lab out of solidarity with the cryostat gang. Today we set out on the final push to get the cryostat closed up, optics and detectors safely inside. By one estimate, we'd be done by 3 pm and then we'd all head to the lake or some such. Ah, optimism.

For the past couple of days I've had no flight computer to program, as two of them are sitting in an electronics crate that isn't quite reassembled yet, and a third is somewhere in transit. Fortunately (?) there are plenty of other entertaining problems to keep me occupied, most visibly including a mess of flaky networking hardware that occasionally leads to concerted cries of "Where have the intertubez gone!?" But I also stumbled into an interesting side project out of sheer frustration that nobody had done it yet -- a web-based detector visualization. Gave me a chance to finally sit down and learn the more advanced features of Javascript. I'd known for a while that, since the last time I did any real web development, it had matured into an actually useful language, and that people are happily writing applications with it these days (c.f. Google). So that was a bit of fun.

tumbleweed-table.jpg
I found this image unaccountably adorable -- on one of our windy days, in the midst of 60-ish mph gusts, this big old tumbleweed got tired of tumbling and drifted up under our makeshift picnic table to hide from the wind.
optics_suspend.jpg
The guts of our instrument suspended some twenty feet off the ground as we prepare to lower it into our cryostat. While it does represent an enormous number of sunk dollars and man-hours, there are actual valid scientific reasons for it to be gold-plated.
So who else knew there were whole abandoned steam locomotives bricked away in the unused tunnels beneath Brooklyn? It's a neat image, anyway, and I hope the fellow gets a change to do his excavation.

On a related note: steam octopod. The inside of that artist's head would seem to be an interesting place. Ditto PZ Myers' head, it would seem.

Speaking of technology-that-never-was ... cold fusion! Still not dead yet, again. Although the article doesn't mention the recent bubble fusion fiasco, it's an entertaining read as well as a fair overview of the state of play.

More recently, a particular piece of technology that probably won't be -- the CLOVER experiment has been defunded. While it was in some sense a competitor to my own group's EBEX project, it's heartbreaking to see so much good work go down the drain. The instrument, as I understand it, was nearly built and was just months from deployment to Chile.

And finally, while not in keeping with this post's theme, I would be remiss not to at least mention marriage equality coming to Iowa. Excellent news for Iowa, of course, but hopefully also a catalyst to get things moving elsewhere in the Midwest. It was decidedly disappointing for us Minnesotans to see a number of good measures along these lines die in committee in St. Paul this year.

P.S. I actually finished this post from the kitchen table of our rented house at 2 am or so. I got a lovely chance to cool my heels for a bit and admire the dark night sky here when, shortly after being dropped off, I discovered that Jeff still had my keys from when he had borrowed them at lunchtime. Nice of him to take a break to return them, since at the rate the closing is going, they may be there until sunrise.

Our insomniac rooster has already started crowing.

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This page contains a single entry by Milligan published on April 7, 2009 1:33 AM.

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