This week in the lab we did some new things to prepare for actual data taking which we hope to start as soon as possible. I learned how to measure and record data about the optics table, how to set up/move items on the optics table, how to clean optics, and had some hands-on practice picking worms.
The first day this week, Brian brought in a new string to measure the distances on the optics table so that we could record everything in detail in the lab notebook. To measure the distances between the items on the table, I had to hold the base of the string as close to one item without getting oil from my skin onto it, then pull the string tight and do the same with a point in the middle of the string. Once this distance was measure on the string, it was easy to mark the point on the string with a pen then measure the end to the mark on a ruler. I recorded the data so that Brian could put it into his notebook with the detailed sketch of the table.
When measuring the distances for the blue laser, we came across the problem that the beam from the laser was not traveling exactly where we wanted it to. We spent most of the time after that trying to re-align the setup for the blue laser so that the image off of the mirror is as large as possible. By using the holes drilled into the table you can estimate where the beam will be by trying to have the beam run parallel to the holes directly over top of them.
At the end of that day, Brian gave a quick tutorial on different ways to clean optics. My favorite way is the drop and drag method where you put a single drop of cleaning solution on the cloth and drag it slowly across the optic.
The last major thing I did this week was I got to pick worms for a new petri dish. I thought it would be very difficult to have the worms stay on the pick and not fall off during transfer, but they seemed to wrap around the head of the pick and not let go. It was not too bad picking the worms, and I am sure that I will only get better as the semester goes on.
I am looking forward to next week where we will hopefully finish aligning the blue laser and begin taking data with the worms inside the optics lab.