Author Topic: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.  (Read 7268 times)

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Offline Sigz

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/science/29train.html?_r=4&ref=science

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During the holiday season, many people place toy trains on circular tracks beneath their Christmas trees.

This month, at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, physicists and engineers built tracks inside one of its fusion reactors and ran a toy train on them for three days.

It was not an exercise in silliness, but in calibration.

The modified model of a diesel train engine was carrying a small chunk of californium-252, a radioactive element that spews neutrons as it falls apart.

“We needed to refine the calibration technique to make sure we are measuring our neutrons as accurately as possible,” said Masa Ono, the project head of the National Spherical Torus Experiment.

The spherical torus experiment is a small reactor designed to test new approaches to fusion, in which hydrogen atoms are fused together at ultrahigh temperatures to produce energy — as the Sun does. Fusion generates copious numbers of neutrons, which tell how well the reaction is proceeding.

The reactor has been shut down for improvements, and the downtime provided an opportunity for recalibrating the neutron sensors.

A stationary neutron source was previously used for the calibration, but that did not fully capture how the neutrons bounced around. Putting the californium on the moving train improved the accuracy by about a factor of 10, Dr. Ono said. (The same technique had been used two decades earlier at one of Princeton laboratory’s older reactors.)

Experiments at the reactor are set to restart in March.

Californium is only slightly radioactive, so the toy train did not glow green after its ride in the fusion reactor. And now that it has completed its physics duties, the train, back in its original state, is running around the laboratory’s Christmas tree in the lobby.



Not sure why I posted this, I just found it funny/cool. *shrug*
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Offline MetalJunkie

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2010, 04:35:18 AM »
Looks like they're on the right track.
Listen! Do you smell something?

Offline Arch Benemy

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2010, 06:22:30 AM »
I hope those guys have had the proper train-ing, or their experiment might run out of steam

Offline Zydar

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2010, 06:24:04 AM »
Those who came up with that had a real loco-motive.

Offline RobD

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2010, 06:31:12 AM »
What made them choo-choo-choose a model train? Wouldn't a trained dog work just as well?
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Clearly, RobD is a genius.

Offline Arch Benemy

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2010, 06:55:19 AM »
What made them choo-choo-choose a model train? Wouldn't a trained dog work just as well?
I guess they're just model scientists

Offline rumborak

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2010, 06:59:54 AM »
That is a tender way of doing science.

rumborak
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Offline Vahvahenki

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2010, 08:36:57 AM »
Will there be any serious discussion or is this thread about to derail?

Offline Jamesman42

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2010, 08:39:32 AM »
Will there be any serious discussion or is this thread about to derail?

Well, how about you be more of a conductor of discussion?

Offline sonatafanica

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2010, 09:06:10 AM »
I have to at least congratulate them for getting the wheels in motion for future fusion experiments.

Offline Vahvahenki

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2010, 09:08:46 AM »
Will there be any serious discussion or is this thread about to derail?

Well, how about you be more of a conductor of discussion?

I would if only I were more capable, I'm afraid I'm res-trained by a lack of worth-mentionable opinions.

Offline ariich

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2010, 09:20:20 AM »
This thread does not disappoint. :lol

Offline rumborak

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2010, 09:33:05 AM »
This thread does not disappoint. :lol

Trust me, we've not run out of steam yet.

rumbora
"I liked when Myung looked like a women's figure skating champion."

Offline Jamesman42

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2010, 09:35:48 AM »
This thread does not disappoint. :lol

Trust me, we've not run out of steam yet.

rumbora


Yeah, so much it's a real freight.

Offline RobD

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2010, 09:36:46 AM »
This thread does not disappoint. :lol

C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!
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Offline ariich

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2010, 09:54:52 AM »
ACCOUNT INACTIVE! :P

This thread does not disappoint. :lol

Trust me, we've not run out of steam yet.

rumbora

:lol Still keeping things on track I see.

Offline Jamesman42

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2010, 09:57:09 AM »
DTF: Derailing is our instinct.

Offline Vahvahenki

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2010, 10:23:23 AM »
I'm afraid this will be the last contribution on my part, I lost track of the amount of possible puns on one subject.

Offline rumborak

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2010, 10:39:45 AM »
ACCOUNT INACTIVE! :P

This thread does not disappoint. :lol

Trust me, we've not run out of steam yet.

rumbora

:lol Still keeping things on track I see.

Nothing you can do about it; that train has left the station.

rumborak
"I liked when Myung looked like a women's figure skating champion."

Offline lonestar

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2010, 11:47:30 AM »
I'm sure we can keep it chugging along.
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Dang, you're easily the coolest fogey I know of

Offline rumborak

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2010, 12:18:05 PM »
Now that's the ticket.

rumborak
"I liked when Myung looked like a women's figure skating champion."

Offline Jamesman42

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2010, 12:52:25 PM »
All aboard is watching for more puns.

Offline Dimitrius

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2010, 12:55:25 PM »
 :rollin :rollin :rollin
 

:tup

Joe and I in the same squad is basically the virtual equivalent of us plowing a rape van through an elementary school playground at recess.

Offline Ultimetalhead

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2010, 01:01:28 PM »
Well, this thread got off-track pretty fast.
Orion....that's the one with a bunch of power chords and boringly harsh vocals, isn't it?
LOOK AT THIS AWESOME SHIT AHHHHHH

Offline Jamesman42

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2010, 01:03:53 PM »
You could say that we made a fast crossing.

Offline Ultimetalhead

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2010, 01:04:24 PM »
Seriously, this thread should be used as a model to train noobs in the ways of DTF Derailment By Puns.
Orion....that's the one with a bunch of power chords and boringly harsh vocals, isn't it?
LOOK AT THIS AWESOME SHIT AHHHHHH

Offline XianL

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2010, 01:06:46 PM »
We've burnt up enough coal going off-topic, can we realign to the proper subject, please?

Offline Jamesman42

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2010, 01:08:22 PM »
Seriously, this thread should be used as a model to train noobs in the ways of DTF Derailment By Puns.

:clap:

Offline XianL

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2010, 01:10:01 PM »
Seriously, this thread should be used as a model to train noobs in the ways of DTF Derailment By Puns.


Offline Ultimetalhead

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2010, 01:13:55 PM »
We've burnt up enough coal going off-topic, can we realign to the proper subject, please?
Why can't you just be a model poster and stop feeding the fires?
Orion....that's the one with a bunch of power chords and boringly harsh vocals, isn't it?
LOOK AT THIS AWESOME SHIT AHHHHHH

Offline Sigz

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #30 on: January 09, 2010, 01:22:13 PM »
I'm amazed you guys haven't run out of steam after all these puns.
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Offline XianL

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #31 on: January 09, 2010, 01:23:20 PM »
We're just running on fumes now.

Offline Ultimetalhead

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2010, 01:27:21 PM »
So far it looks like this thread is a runaway hit.
Orion....that's the one with a bunch of power chords and boringly harsh vocals, isn't it?
LOOK AT THIS AWESOME SHIT AHHHHHH

Offline Sigz

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #33 on: January 09, 2010, 01:28:30 PM »
It's really become the little thread that could.
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The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.

Offline Ultimetalhead

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Re: Need to calibrate the sensors in a fusion reactor? Use a model train.
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2010, 01:29:54 PM »
Really, I'm surprised it's kept a-rollin' as well as it has.
Orion....that's the one with a bunch of power chords and boringly harsh vocals, isn't it?
LOOK AT THIS AWESOME SHIT AHHHHHH