Week 5: Lab Company, Finally!

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Sunday, June 29, 2014


Kirsten Randle

As Felipe returned to the lab after an eventful journey back from Mexico, my surroundings have become a little less silent. This week I finished up the draft of my paper, sent it to Dr. Chuss and Karwan for review and also got to get my hands a little dirty in the lab. After some electronic chip testing had gone on in the dewar this week (at ~0.1 K), Felipe and I dismantled it for new tests. We checked the resistances of some circuitry to make sure it was all intact, pulled out the chips and replaced a few of them. One we'd tested a few weeks ago in another building where another project Dr. Chuss is involved in, PIPER, is housed. The other was a smaller "BUG" chip that we had to mount on gold-coated alumina with rubber cement in order to keep it in the casing. On Thursday and Friday I was in the PIPER lab helping a Johns Hopkins grad student build a test grid for the modulating mirror for CLASS. The wires help filter in polarized light. The grid we were developing was deemed a "test grid" because the wire we received from the manufacturer was badly oxidized and would not be able to serve its purpose as a sensitive filter, but was still good enough to practice construction techniques and do some mechanical testing. I was helping the grad student mix and apply a strong polymer adhesive called "Stycast" to delicate, finely spaced, and precisely tensioned wires wound around a cylinder. After the epoxy cures, the grid will be cut from a cylinder to a flat sheet, tensioned, and transported to Johns Hopkins.

Last weekend, my sister and brother-in-law came to visit on Saturday and Sunday. I was sad they missed Jazz in the Garden Friday night where Caleb, Mark, Ashely and I had a wonderful time absorbing Funk. But as is the case with my sister, the weekend was full of things to do. We went on a capitol tour, sandwiches in hand for the journey. We stopped for an excellent snack of chicken fingers and onion rings, then headed up to the World War II memorial for a ranger talk. We met up with an old friend in Foggy Bottom for burgers and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Sunday morning, we walked down to peruse the Lincoln, Korean War, World War I, and Vietnam War memorials before heading up to Goddard. I took them through my building which contains some cool images and models, showed them my lab, and then went to the Visitor Center. They headed home, and I went back to relax for the rest of my weekend.

Kirsten Randle