I'm Chels. I blog about science, art, tennis, and my adventures in journalism. Officially, I'm a Science Writer at Brookhaven National Lab and I blog for them, too. Unofficially, I'm pretty awesome.

Or, you know, owsome.

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Cool things I learned while I toured our Light Source this morning

  • The source of electrons for the crazy bright x-rays we’re gonna make is just a lightbulb filament. Same basic size, same basic technology. That’s crazy to me, when you think about how this will be the brightest x-ray synchrotron in the world!
  • Some of the beamlines have to be stabilized in vibration-free areas so we can look at materials on the scale of one nanometer (which is absolutely insane, in and of itself), and one of the biggest sources of vibrations we’re battling is the waves of the Atlantic hitting the south shore of Long Island. They’re low frequency so they spread really wide and far, which means they make it up to our light source at Brookhaven. Nutso!

Hangin’ out at the PHENIX detector this morning.

Tour Brookhaven National Lab 

Got a question on that last post about tours of Brookhaven, so here’s the deal: 

  • Every summer, Brookhaven National Lab opens its gates to the public on four Sundays for free tours. Each one has a different theme, but you get to tour facilities, hear talks from scientists (if you want) and check out the grounds. This year, we’re doing tours of the National Synchrotron Light Source, the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, the National Weather Service station, and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Click the link above for more info. 

  • If you can’t make it out during the summer (and summer is the best time to come because our particle collider is shut down, so you can GO INSIDE IT), call our tour office and they can help you find a time to visit the Lab. 


Last month, Brookhaven Lab was part of Apple’s 1.24.14 video, which was shot at 15 locations around the globe in one day, including right here at our Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Keep an eye out during the video (at 00:47) for a shot of Brookhaven physicists working at our stunning atom smasher. We’re proud to be repping Big Science in this groundbreaking video.

January 24, 2014 was one of my favorite days since I’ve been at Brookhaven. It is so cool to be part of this Apple ad. Go check us out! 

Erin caught a pheasant ice skating on a creek in the wooded areas of the Lab property the other day. Something about this is kind of hilarious to me. Just a pheasant nonchalantly slip-sliding down the ice.

I found this little cartoon book about Brookhaven today while I was cleaning up an old cubicle, and the “Nuclear Spins and Magnetic Moments” page was too sweet not to share. 

Based on the bathroom door signs at the particle collider, it seems you must be super fancy to use the toilets there. Ladies and Gentlemen only. No ragamuffins. 

Yesterday at the new Light Source, I checked out this crazy piece of equipment that was just installed at the end of an x-ray beamline. The scientists tell me it’s a diffractometer, but I can’t be sure it’s not a Star Gate.

This isn’t quite the whole thing, yet. All those holes are places for instruments to be mounted, and those different instruments will measure how x-rays bounce off a sample material, held in the middle where that large circular knob is. Super cool. 

Justin being super casual about the RHIC tunnel. He and the magnet tubes are friends.

Got up close and personal with the STAR detector at RHIC today. New green and purple wires complete a gorgeous detector update.

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