Thursday, November 17, 2005

Moving About

First of all, good news! I finally got a towel today and I'm gonna take my first shower in 4 days. Now, I know that sounds totally gross, but its not my fault. We were told when we first arrived that we were only allowed 2 2-minute showers a week. So, I figured I would take showers every 3-4 days right. Well, I just learned yesterday that this really means 4 minutes a week, so I can take 4 1-minute showers! Its doable, turn the water on to get wet, turn it off and soap up, turn it back on and rinse. Also, I forgot to pack a towel, so I had to buy one today.

Secondly, go right away and check out my South Pole Virtual Tour on the other blog.

Thirdly, I made it out to the telescope the last 2 days. The first day I was still very tired and woozy, so I didnt accomplish too much. Yesterday was a much better day and I was finally feeling like myself again. I went out and did a number of things. Most fun of all, I got to climb inside and around outside the telescope. During the summer here we have to cover the foam cone on the telescope in order to prevent damage from the very intense sun. For some reason, the cover had blown or fallen off, so with the help of John Kovac (one of the guys who worked on DASI, the original telescope) we put it back on.

In case you have no idea why I am here, let me give you a quick explanation. For the last 2 years, I have been working off and on with the telescope QUaD. This telescope is designed to measure microwave radiation from the early universe. The pattern of this radiation is very interesting. We see microwave emission coming from all directions on the sky, surrounding us, all at almost the same temperature. This tells us that at some point, the universe was very smooth and matter was evenly distributed. If it were perfectly smooth, then there would be no seeds for the structure we see today (such as galaxies and stars) to grow from. So there must be some small deviation from smoothness. In fact, we see this very small deviation when we look very carefully. QUaD is designed to look about as carefully as anyone has yet. The acronym QUaD stands for Quest and DASI. Quest is the name of the receiver and DASI was another microwave telescope that was here a few years ago. QUaD is the synthesis of these two instruments. Here is a picture of the telescope, taken last year by someone else on top of a crane …

There are a few details in this picture. First there is a giant metal mirror looking dish. This is not actually part of the telescope, it is a “ground shield” that deflects stray radiation from the receiver and blocks ground contamination, radiation emitted from the ground. The actual telescope is the green and white box in the middle, with a metal dish on top covered by a white foam cone. The dish is much like a satellite dish outside someone’s home. It has a main dish, and then a secondary mirror suspended above it by the foam cone. My main contribution was the foam cone! I helped build it during the summer of 2004.

Now, here are some pics of me running around the telescope!

This is a reflection of me from the mirrored surface of the ground shield. You can see me in all my gear, and the telescope in the background.

That’s me looking triumphant in front of my baby!

John Kovac trying to get a picture of the inside of the telescope through a small opening on the top. Incidently, the telescope is pointed at the horizon here to make it easier for us to cover it.

John had to climb up on top of the thing to throw down the cover so I could wrap it around. I had to cede the cool jobs to him, he built most of it before I even applied to grad school.

Now some gratuitous shots of me frozen …

So yeah, make sure you check out my South Pole Virtual Tour on the other blog if you haven’t already. Its way cool! Im gonna go take a shower now, bye.


Post a Comment

<< Home