Yesterday, I toured the Candian Light Source (CLS), probably the biggest science project in Canada of recent years.
It's basically a particle accelerator (a synchrotron, to be specific). But while in traditional particle accelerators, you're interested in getting particles up to great speeds and smashing them into each other or into other things, this machine takes a different approach.
One of the byproducts of turning atomic particles to keep them going in a loop at relativistic speeds is a whole bunch of energy in the form of light. So rather than smashing the particle into something (in this case, they're using electrons because they of their very low mass), you can just send tap into this at the point where the particle stream turns, and you get a beam of very intense light. So I guess you've just swapped a particle beam of, say, electrons for one of photons.
As it turns out, there are all kinds of things you can do with a really intense beam of light. These include high-resolution medical imaging, very fine etching of surfaces (like when you want to build nanobots), and determining protein structures.
Yes, yes, it's been a while.
Last night's foray into the local pub yielded a great sampling of beers:
- Beck's Dark, a tasty dark cousin to the usual light Beck's. My favourite of the evening.
- Monty Python's Holy Grail, pretty good, certainly worth the novelty value. It is one of the few beers you will find that claims to be "brewed over burned witches".
- Speaking of novelty value, how about knocking back an Aass Classic from Norway? I'll leave the jokes up to the audience . . . shouldn't be too hard for you.
This weekend, I traveled to Red Deer for what are only mildly interesting reasons, mostly to see my parents.
It turns out that Red Deer is roughly due West of Saskatoon, and that the most direct route involves going through Stettler, Alberta.
As you approach Stettler from the East on Highway 12, you pass by an industrial slough (perhaps a naturally occuring pond which happens to be in the industrial part of town). This body of water has what amounts to a pile of rocks sticking out at one point, which somebody has carefully crowned with an old tire. I call this formation (wait for it . . . ) Stettler's Island, despite the fact that it looks rather small and unpopulated.