July 15, 2003
I know this entry is long overdue, but it has been a busy past few weeks. I have been having a lot of fun so far in the Laser Teaching Center . I have done and learned a lot so far. Lately I have been working on trying to cleanup the lab and keep it as orderly as possible. I am about to start testing all the lasers to make sure that they are acting as they are supposed to be. I have to test to make sure that the power supplies are not giving any background noise and that the lasers voltages are staying fairly constant. I am really enjoying my time here working with Dr. Noé because I get to learn about everyones projects, what makes them work, and how all of the equipment works.
July 21, 2003
Over the past few days I have tested the three 633nm HeNe lasers. I've learned to use the oscilloscope and the meters fairly proficiently. In order to get the results to be fairly constant I had the meter display the average of the data over 20 seconds. I did two trials for the lasers and thankfully the data was fairly constant and only varied a tenth of a mW/mA. I have also set up an example of the Arago Effect that is a diffraction pattern, caused by shining a laser beam onto a suspended ball bearing, the diffraction pattern causes a point of light in the center of the ball bearing shadow.
Over the past few days we have also been receiving lectures by
Professor Metcalf on the basics of Quantum Mechanics. Although the
math is over my head I am able to understand the concepts that he
talks about. I am finding it really interesting and I can't wait till
July 24, 2003
Today was a busy day, with two lectures and a tour of the lab by the REU students. The first lecture we had was Quantum Mechanics III, the math is still over my head but I am able to grasp most of the concepts. Luckily for me everyone here is nice and is willing to help explain what I don't understand. We also went to a lecture given by Colin Hawthorne on evaporative cooling of meta-stable Neon. A lot of the lecture was understandable and I really liked it. I was following him for at least the first half and then it all went down hill when he started using terms that I've never heard before, but all and all I enjoyed it.
Lately I have been wrestling with a few computers, trying to get them working. They are very temperamental and work sometimes while not working others, thankfully the computer decided to wait till after I made a backup of the hard drive onto a CD before it stopped working, but I think eventually I will be able to replace a few parts and get it up and running again.
Also, today me and James finally assembled the long awaited shelf that was put below one of the optical tables. I was nervous about drilling the holes and assembling the shelf, because I had to do the measurements for the holes and I was worried that I might be off by an inch or two causing us to drill right into the two metal poles that are holding the shelf up. Turns out that I'm better at measuring than I thought and the shelf came together nicely.
August 1, 2003
The past week has been long and hectic, we have had a Quantum lecture, an Atomic clock lecture, a lesson on lasers given by José and also the REU presentations. In short, I've learned alot this week. This is the last week for the REU students although I think all will be hanging around longer save Allison who is going back to Texas.
We have recently received comptuers from the Instructional Lab, although they were mostly 486s and one Pentium or so, we will be able to use them as DOS computers and hopefully another Linux one. I have and will continue to try and get some of them up and running, luckily some of them were already working and all I had to do was plug it in.
Next week I will be leaving to goto California to visit my Uncle so I am trying finish up everything that I can so that when I get back it isn't too overwhelming. Luckily today will be easy and we get to do some cool demonstrations.
August 21, 2003
So I'm back from California and I'm trying to finish up some things here in the lab before my time here is done. Last week was the official end to the Simons program, although many of them are still hanging around finishing up their research. Unfortunately we weren't able to have our last day of Simon's open-house like we planned since we had the power go out and Stony Brook wasn't online till Friday night.
Lately I've just been trying to straighten up the little odds and ends that people have been leaving around after they're done with they're experiments. I've also been setting up little demonstrations; like the laser light show which uses a speaker that has a rubber diaphragm and a mirror on it, which you shine a laser on so you can see the reflection on the wall and it makes cool shapes. Also using an oscilloscope to make Lissajous figures, all I do is get two sin waves one that is constant (256 Hz)and another one that is a multiple or a factor of 256 (n* 256) or (256/n) where n is a positive integer.
I have really enjoyed my time at the Laser Teaching Center, I have learned more this summer than I have in most school years. Being the lab assistant has allowed me to learn a lot just by interacting with everyone's projects. I like being able to help people with their projects, whether it be helping Maanit build his beam dump or finding and hooking up Yiyi's power supply for her light. I really enjoyed attending Professor Metcalf's lectures, even if I didn't understand all of it I always came out understanding something a little bit better. I think my favorite part about the Laser Teaching Center is that everyone had the freedom to do whatever it is that they want to do. I enjoyed having the freedom to fiddle with things and learn from what I did. I like how people don't always run to Dr. No every time something doesn't work but will first ask the people around them, I also like how everyones is always asking questions about something, because it helps me learn when everyone is throwing out ideas and we all talk about them. I find that the environment here is very conducive to learning. I'm going to miss the Laser Teaching Center when I leave and I hope I can come back next year to have another great experience.