Monday, November 08, 2010

Test Station

When we make a new material or device at work we need to test it. This can be tricky at times because most of the materials can't be exposed to air. This is a picture of one of our test stations. The entire test is enclosed in a bell jar to keep it away from air. We pump out all of the air and back fill it with Argon and a smidgen of Hydrogen. The glowing red hot thing in the middle is an electrically heated piece of Molybdenum (lovingly referred to as Molly for short). To the right of the heater you may see another red hot strip of metal foil. This is a piece of titanium that is electrically heated. We call this a "getter" because hot titanium will react with any stray oxygen particle and remove it from the atmosphere. All the other wires and tubes are electrical probes and thermocouples to measure voltage drops and temperatures. There are also some water cooling lines. Under all of this we have a pneumatic cylinder that can load our sample up to a few hundred pounds of force. All in all it is a remarkable device and if I do say so myself, I think it looks kind of cool.

A mere 2% drop in body water (that can happen without you even feeling thirsty) can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page. The first thing I do every morning when I walk in my office is drink a half liter of water.


Lisa said...

It does look rather cool.

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

haha love the trivia fact ;) I need to send you that whole document I was reading.
p.s. you have such a cool job!

Kathy Marx said...

love the trivia! I'm going to get a drink of water NOW...