"BOOM!" A star explodes. Through nucleosynthesis, the heavier elements needed for our world to eventually become what it is, are created. In labs, we create superheavy elements. We expand the periodic table further and further, stretching out the limits of nature.
Learning more about atomic nuclei, we further our potential in many useful areas. For example, nuclear power plants using fusion instead of fission would seriously rock the world on its heels.
Now Batman, Iron Man, eat your hearts out.
Superhero and sci-fi movies can't hold a candle to real life. GRETA, the Gamma-Ray Energy Tracking Array, is headed to Cave 4C at the 88-Inch Cylotron at Argonne National Laboratory.
Spectrometers with crystal sensors can detect gamma rays emitted by atomic nuclei when they spin or undergo transmutation. The biggest and the baddest is still a baby version of the overall project. GRETINA, has 7 intricate detector modules and pales in comparison to it's intended final build, GRETA, that will have 30 detector modules in its array.
In the movie Contact, the immensity of the alien contraption is intended to make the audience's eyes widen in wonder. If you've seen Stargate, then you might remember just how much time is devoted to the machinery itself. Well this video of GRETINA gives us a glimpse of a machine at the cutting edge of technology that blows them all away.
In action, GRETINA sends its raw data at 10 million signals per second to an electronics array upstairs. From upstairs, in an instant they sift through the signals and pipe the tracking information for 20,000 gamma rays per second downstairs to be processed via 62 high powered networked computers.
A youtube tour inside the lab during installation is a present I wasn't expecting today. If you haven't oogled at technology lately, this is your chance.
Article on Berkeley Labs
Half our waking hours might be spent daydreaming. Article on BBC News
X-ray flare recently spewed out of sunspot. Article on PhysOrg