homeGeek CultureWebstoreeCards!Forums!Joy of Tech!AY2K!webcam

The Geek Culture Forums


Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | | search | faq | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» The Geek Culture Forums   » Techno-Talking   » Science!   » Field Trip!

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Field Trip!
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 736

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted November 08, 2005 21:07      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, on Thursday me, one of my labmates, and my advisor are going to the synchrotron at Berkeley to do some diffraction experiments. We're going to be shipping out a bunch of crystals ahead of us tomorrow. I've got 54 all packed up and ready to go and I'm going to freeze a few more tomorrow to bring the total up to ~60. Growing and screening and packaging these bastards has been my life for the past five or so weeks. We're going with people from a couple other groups and we've got 48 hours on two beamlines. My project gets priority. There was a fourth group going, but now they're just sending a handful of crystals for us to shoot for them (they did the same for us back in September). I will not be doing a lot of sleeping. Sight-seeing won't be happening either.

The reason we're going to the synchrotron is two-fold. One, the beam is a few orders of magnitude brighter than the Cu anode we've got on campus (think spotlight compared to candle), so we'll be able to get higher resolution data and we'll also be able to collect a lot faster. And I mean a lot faster. We're talking one second of exposure, compared to the three to five minutes I need here at home to see any sort of diffraction. Two, the beam is tunable. I can change the wavelength. Multicolored x-rays! Woohoo! This can enhance my resolution. More importantly, atoms will absorb x-rays at certain wavelengths, and the heavier the atom, the better the absorption. I need this property to calculate phases and from there calculate the structure of the molecule in my crystals. Phasing is a pain in the ass. A huge pain in the ass. I know someone who's been in phasing hell for a year now. I've only been in for about two and a half months and it's already making me bonkers. I do have a couple things going for me - I've figured out how to grow my crystals quickly and how to get them to grow in the presence of a couple very nice heavy atoms. But is the atom bound up in the crystal all nice and orderly so I can find it and get my phases? Who knows...

Oh yeah, and if you want to know more about macromolecular x-ray crystallography here's a pretty accessible overview. Basically, I'm a glorified photographer. [crazy]

I've been told by people who've been to the synchrotron that using the equipment there is like getting behind the wheel of a Ferrari when you're used to driving a Yugo. Not only is the beam incredibly bright, but the set-up is suppose to be state-of-the art and we detect the x-rays with a CCD os the image comes up instantly. COntrast that with the phosphorimaging plates we use at home. Those beat the pants off film any day of the week, but you still need a couple minutes for the lasers to read the plate. CCD's work instantly.

And finally, since this is a national lab, security will be tight. Tight enough that I lad to submit a bunch of personal infor a cople weeks ago so they could do a background check before issuing me a user badge.

I'm a bit excited. Does it show? [Razz]

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
dragonman97

SuperFan!
Member # 780

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted November 08, 2005 21:37      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sounds pretty fscking awesome! Have fun!

--------------------
There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

Posts: 9331 | From: Westchester County, New York | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
GrumpySteen

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan
Member # 170

Icon 14 posted November 08, 2005 22:02      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Xanthine will soon have over one and a half billion eV at her disposal. I'm sure we're all going to sleep much better with that knowledge [Big Grin]

Congratulations and I'd say you deserve it because you've definitely been working your butt off if your project is getting priority.

--------------------
Worst. Celibate. Ever.

Posts: 6364 | From: Tennessee | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
littlefish
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
Member # 966

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted November 09, 2005 00:29      Profile for littlefish   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Have fun and try to get some work done!

When I went to the international spallation source for some HR XRPD the beam went down and I didn't get to run my experiment. It was really fscking boring hanging around waiting for the beam to come up and watch other people set up their runs. Having said that, the site itself was awesome, and I got to see my family as ISIS is close to where they live.

Of course, I was playing with neutrons, but they were building diamond while I was there, which is a very pretty building.

Posts: 2421 | From: That London | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
The Famous Druid

Gold Hearted SuperFan!
Member # 1769

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted November 09, 2005 03:55      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sounds like geek nirvana.
(why don't we have a green-with-jealousy emoticon?)

Don't forget to reverse the polarity on the flux capacitor. [Razz]

--------------------
If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

Posts: 10668 | From: Melbourne, Australia | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
drunkennewfiemidget
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
Member # 2814

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted November 09, 2005 06:48      Profile for drunkennewfiemidget     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't know what the FUCK you just said, little man, but you touch a brother's heart...

(Yes, I know the labmousie is female, and yes I know I'm white.. it's a damn movie quote. [Razz] )

Have fun, Xanth.

Posts: 4897 | From: Cambridge, ON, Canada | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
TMBWITW,PB

Member # 1734

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted November 09, 2005 09:14      Profile for TMBWITW,PB     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Berkeley! [Big Grin] I don't suppose you'll have any spare time for a mini-moot? [Wink]

Sounds like you'll have a blast. [Applause]

--------------------
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."
—Miss Piggy

Posts: 4010 | From: my couch | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
maia
Alpha Geek
Member # 3778

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted November 09, 2005 10:20      Profile for maia     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sadly enough, I did understand everything you just said. I have never been to a synchotron myself, but several of my coworkers have. Right now I'm doing NMR, but I may do some crystalography in the future. I can fully understand your giddiness. If you weren't excited, I'd say you were in the wrong field. Anyway, have lots of caffiene. Good luck. Here's wishing you 1.0 Ang resolution diffraction!!! [Smile]

--------------------
Nothing is too petty to be thoroughly discussed.

Posts: 316 | From: United States | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 736

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted November 09, 2005 10:30      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Considering 2.5 is the best I've ever done at home that's a pretty big wish. [Smile] I'll be happy if I get good data close to 2 and even happier if I get phases. My labmate, OTOH, has some crystals that go to to ~1.5 on the home source so she'll be pushing for the magic 1 mark.

Well, I've got the crystals all packed up and ready to go. There are so many things that could go wrong between now and Friday morning when I see them again I don't want to think about it.

Good luck with the NMR!

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
maia
Alpha Geek
Member # 3778

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted November 09, 2005 10:44      Profile for maia     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wow, I didn't even think 1 was possible, at least not in terms of final structure and completeness and all that jazz that I hardly understand. I do know that 2 is pretty awesome, though. So, I guess a better statement would be: Here's wishing you 2 Ang diffraction and nice, easy to extract phasing information!!! [Smile] [Smile] And don't worry about the crystals. They're in the hands of the crystal gods now.

--------------------
Nothing is too petty to be thoroughly discussed.

Posts: 316 | From: United States | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 736

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted November 09, 2005 11:12      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That would be why I'm worried. [Razz]

1 is rare but possible. The refinement process is a wee bit more difficult though...

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
HalfVast

Member # 3187

Icon 1 posted November 09, 2005 14:20      Profile for HalfVast     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think you are the luckiest person in the world [Big Grin]

Good results and have fun!

Posts: 795 | From: In the mitten around the abductor pollicis brevis. | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Xanthine

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
Member # 736

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted November 14, 2005 12:05      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, I'm back...with about 600 gigs of data to sift through. The beam was in good working order until about 8 am Sunday, when they shut down the whole damn thing so some physicists could go in and experiment with particles that aren't electrons. I'm not sure what was going on, but it wasn't the standard refill. Those happened every eight hours and only take about twenty minutes. This was going to be until midnight Tuseday and when I left there was no current at all in the ring (there's monitors up at every experimental station - as the current drops so does the brightness of the beam, so we need to know). I was expecting a refuill at 9 and had planned accordingly. I was not expecting the whole thing to go down, and therefore lost about two hours of my time andone of my experiments got interrupted. The bastards. Fortunately, this was a low priority experiment and I got two thirds of the way through so I *think* I have a complete data set (unless I'm wrong about the symmetry of my crystal).

I have seen nerdvana, and it was good. The beamlines are just that - metal pipes coming off teh ring, filled with light and terminating at some sort of apparatus. In my case it was an XRD set-up. I took a walk around the ring at 3 am yesterday morning to keep myself awake and saw some equipment I couldn't identify and looked like it belonged on the set of a sci fi movie. I didn't get pictures though. Bad planning on my part. There's radiation detectors up on the walls in various places 'cuz synchrotrons spit out radeiation that no one really wants or needs. THey shield it up pretty tight but the experiment floor is not open to unescorted visitors, and there's some areas that only people with training above and beyond what a user like me gets are allowed to be. The computation power available is pretty intense - stations are separated by experimental apparatus, cubicle crap and server racks. We had a DVD robot burning our data as we collected, so if something happend to our drives I'm not hosed. Most of the machines ran Linux, with the exception of one Mac and a couple PCs. I did my collecting and processing on the *nix boxes. The place is crawling with engineers of every flavor who keep it all running. The collection and some of the analysis software I was using were brewed up by people at Berkeley and was therefore the very latest version. I didn't break anything; given that I knew more or less what I was doing that would have required some creativity and effort.

I did my work in shifts. One was a 22 hour push. The second was a piddly 14 or 15. When I wasn't on the beam I was sleeping or sitting in traffic. I saw some sunlight by mistake a couple times. It hurt.

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
supergoo

SuperFan!
Member # 2280

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted November 14, 2005 12:24      Profile for supergoo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wow, sounds über-exciting!

/me has no idea what you're talking about but is jealous anyway [Wink]

--------------------
Y los sueños, sueños son.

Posts: 675 | From: Boston 'burbs | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
GrumpySteen

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan
Member # 170

Icon 1 posted November 14, 2005 18:47      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Congratulations... but don't forget the camera next time. We want geek porn to drool over!

--------------------
Worst. Celibate. Ever.

Posts: 6364 | From: Tennessee | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
Swiss Mercenary

Member # 330

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted November 14, 2005 18:50      Profile for Swiss Mercenary     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Heh, I worked at CERN for a year and a half doing network stuff, saw most of that stuff daily [Wink]

Maybe you can get transfered out here Xanthine and enjoy yourself with the LHC, once it is built.

Actually, I can see CERN from my workdesk, during the day that is, considering I am on the 23h-8h shift at the moment.

--------------------
Evil AI at work.
I am Swiss of Borg. Holes are irrelevant, cheese will be assimilated!

Posts: 2275 | From: All the way from the land of Chocolate, Cheese and Cuckoo Clocks. | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged


All times are Eastern Time  
Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | Geek Culture Home Page

© 2015 Geek Culture

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.4.0


homeGeek CultureWebstoreeCards!Forums!Joy of Tech!AY2K!webcam