Saturday, September 12, 2009

life - walks game cycle

The diversity of life provides me constant amazement. Just looking at human life reveals such a variety of options and directions. The many types of people and what they do makes the world interesting (and sometimes dangerous).

Each of us get a unique view of the world.

What's your walk of life?
What role do you play in the game of life?

I was thinking how people within the same culture/society can live in different worlds. Your job, family, location, gender, etc. shape your day.

You know the expression, "walk in my shoes".

Not being part of one of these 'worlds' doesn't stop us from commenting about somebody when hear of or see an event. For example, I watched a clip of our impeached governor Blagojevich on the Bonnie Hunt show and thought what a sociopath!

But then, what do I really know of his world. Politics and power, books, news conferences, talk shows - nothing of that in my experience.

Still with me?

Let's switch to another 'walk of life'. Not really a part of mine either, but maybe a little closer. At least I respect this industry more - a scientist. Also, I've been fortunate enough to talk with a few.

At the end of the summer my wife and I visited Argonne National Labs for their open house. I was not expecting anything as big as it was.

I felt like I went to Disney World. People, tents, shuttle buses, lines, just no Mickey or Minnie (well we didn't see one). It was well organized. But I just expected something about a tenth the size.

The big crowd is really good news because it shows some interest in science. We should have arrived earlier, because we were short of time to see even half of the exhibits.

Photo by Wes Agresta/Courtesy Argonne National Laboratory.

I'm glad we made it to the Advanced Photon Source. It's the size of a major league baseball stadium and produces this nation’s most brilliant x-ray beams for research in almost all scientific disciplines. The above picture is the main entrance to the APS.

Just as the open house was coming to a close. I decided to peek into the physics building. I'm very glad I did. I knew time was short so I just picked a room that had people talking, charts, and displays.

I walk over to this table covered with a poster that made no sense to me. It had this waterfall type of look to it. So I asked, "what's this about?"

The gentleman on the other side of the table tells me it's about the structure of atomic nuclei.

Ok, I'm thinking interesting but still wondering what's being explained on the poster.

Then the man identifies himself as one of the authors of the research behind the poster. He is Dr. R. B. Wiringa. We went to the same school (U of I), except I point out that I only got a BS degree (engineering) there.

So here is a poster summarizing a life long quest researching nuclei structure. He's been creating models and simulating neutrons and protons since they had supercomputers. ALL ON A SHEET OF GLOSSY PAPER - your life quest. (nice poster multi colored - hey what do I have? a blog?)

After hearing about the years of simulation and prediction followed by experimental support, I realized the poster didn't do their effort justice. Think of a diagram of the Eiffel tower as describing the whole effort of Mr. Eiffel. There is so much more behind the scenes and the challenges.

I asked questions and I followed his explanations but I could have used up even more of his time. I learned something about neutron stars. The protons are transformed into neutrons.

There was another contributor there too, Kenneth M. Nollett. He talked with us some too.

Here's a link to page about Dr. Wiringa.

Ok so maybe I'll suggest sending Blago to Argonne and getting his head (and hair) x-rayed. I think he would do it if there was a TV camera in the room.


Debbie said...

That does sound very interesting. I would never have imagined.

Bill Lisleman said...

@debbie - if your profile is still correct you live in the state with the Oak Ridge facility that was started for the World War II Manhattan Project. Have you been there?
thanks for dropping by.

alantru said...

Always a great read. Thanks.

Say, did you hear about that woman who married The Eiffel tower?

Bill Lisleman said...

@alantru - good to see you. No never heard that but I'll search for it.

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