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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.
The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.
Pure. Refreshing. Bacon.
Clearly, RobD is a genius.
What made them choo-choo-choose a model train? Wouldn't a trained dog work just as well?
Will there be any serious discussion or is this thread about to derail?
Best Lyrics: The Best of Times
Quote from: Vahvahenki on January 09, 2010, 08:36:57 AMWill there be any serious discussion or is this thread about to derail? Well, how about you be more of a conductor of discussion?
This thread does not disappoint.
Quote from: ariich on January 09, 2010, 09:20:20 AMThis thread does not disappoint. Trust me, we've not run out of steam yet.rumbora
ACCOUNT INACTIVE! Quote from: rumborak on January 09, 2010, 09:33:05 AMQuote from: ariich on January 09, 2010, 09:20:20 AMThis thread does not disappoint. Trust me, we've not run out of steam yet.rumbora Still keeping things on track I see.
So should lonestar and I have babies or something now, is that how this works?
Dang, you're easily the coolest fogey I know of
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.
Orion....that's the one with a bunch of power chords and boringly harsh vocals, isn't it?
Seriously, this thread should be used as a model to train noobs in the ways of DTF Derailment By Puns.
We've burnt up enough coal going off-topic, can we realign to the proper subject, please?