Arts and Crafts

Some people think that scientists sit at computers all day.  Or wear white lab coats, perhaps working with fancy instruments with streamlined panels and lots of buttons and lights.  One of the great things about building a new instrument like Spider is that we often get to do hands-on arts and crafts.

That’s right, to be a experimental cosmologist you need to tape, glue, and use scissors.

Here’s Ed, a graduate student from Princeton, doing some taping of a special filter that’s part of our telescope optics…

and Anne, another Pton grad student, doing some aluminum taping,
and Johanna, one of my students at Case Western, after assembling a filter stack (the mirror-like thing),
and Becky, a Caltech graduate student, playing with a filter assembly.  (Okay, she’s actually working, not playing… but it looks like fun, right?)
Finally here’s yours truly, taking off some electrical connectors at the bottom of the cryostat (which involved undoing tape and string), as part of getting ready to put telescopes into the cryostat (where they live during flight) for fit checks.
All the arts-and-crafts work got our telescopes a little closer to being ready to put into the cryostat… a couple more days and we hope to have them in place.  We did discover one small “feature”, an alignment issue of the telescopes with the halfwave plates at the top of the cryostat;  we’ll have to adjust the alignment of each telescope to its particular halfwave plate in a custom fashion, since we found the first one was a little out of alignment if we just put it in its default position.  This isn’t a big deal, but gives us a little more “arts and crafts” to do over the next couple days!
So, if you want to do my kind of science, learn to cut, tape and glue well… and because we work in groups and rely on eachother to figure things out and get things done… practice playing well with others.  🙂