Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Whirlwind tour of the ESC

One of the classes I am taking this year, Physics 191, is a once-a-week seminar introducing the faculty and programs in BYU physics. It's a pretty fun class (although for some reason I always have trouble staying awake), and one of the cool things we got to do this week was take a 20 minute tour of the Eyring Science Center.

This is one wall of the anechoic chamber, found two floors below ground level. Everything--floor (6 feet below a wire mesh we stood on), ceiling, walls, was covered in these foam wedges. The overall effect was, well, anechoic--we clapped, we yelled, we clicked and whistled, and every single time the sound faded the moment we stopped. It was kind of creepy, but way cool.
This is some kind of particle accelerator... It was in the plasma physics lab. This thing could probably destroy the universe. (Not really, but wouldn't it be cool if it could?)
We took a trip through the planetarium. The wall murals were really fantastic, I want to come back here at length some day soon.

We also got to see the telescope housed in the ESC; the picture after that is the retracting part of the roof.

This is a laser. Cool, huh?
The laser labs (there were a bunch of them) all had really funny signs on the doors. These were a few of my favorite, although the best was definitely a sign that said "This lab free of laser-related deaths for ___ days." I think there were something like 25 scratches in the blank space. Good job, BYU physics!

As our last step on the tour, we visited the reverberation chamber--it was exactly the opposite of the anechoic chamber; a clap sounded like a gunshot. Part of the physics of the reverberation involved these curved plastic plates suspended from the ceiling in apparently random patterns.
So now I have wandered in the HFAC and taken a whirlwind tour of the ESC. What other secrets does the campus of BYU hold?


Collin said...

Nice! Exactly the sort of stuff one could spend a whole day with! :D

mom said...

Very cool! I think I need one of those padded foam rooms here at home...

Jason said...

It's actually kind of eerie... The silence presses in on your ears.