Wednesday, July 6, 2005

At last, and pictures

I apologize for the strange spacing --- I can't quite figure out the html code to make this neater.

We managed to get the tiny wireless video camera strapped into place on the wing. Dr. Zager brought along a couple of strips of velcro, which he mounted perfectly on the right side. He and Andreas, the Swedish Physicist, devised a terrific plan to acquire the shot we wanted.

If you remember, I was looking for a shot of the Fermilab hi-rise (the main building in the facility) from the air (see "bird's eye view - sort of"). The plane that they strapped the camera to belonged to the Barnstormer's club, and was what they call a "trainer." This is sort of like the cars that they used in Driver's Ed in high school, the ones with the extra brake on the instructor's side. There were two remote control consoles wired together. One of them was the "trainer" console and the other was for the student. The trainer could assign control to the student and then take it back in an emergency (such as a nose-dive).

It was Andreas' idea to try to fly the airplane by watching the video feed --- in other words, he was going to sit at the picnic table with one eye smashed against the viewfinder of the video camera and fly the plane by, in essence, looking through the wireless camera on the wing. Imagine mounting a video camera on the hood of a car and trying to drive by watching the feed on a TV. Heck, it's basically a video game.

Anyway, Dr. Zager had the trainer console and they took it up in the air. After about 10 minutes they started to get the hang of it. We heard a lot of "Do I have it?" "You have it." "OK, I'm taking it back." "Do you have it?" "Do you want it?" "Give it to me." "No, I've got it." "Take it!" "Where is it?" "Who has it?" It was really quite exciting. And I think we got our shot. They had a lot of fun, and are extremely excited to get the footage from the flight.

Jim Zager, Barnstormers president, prepping the plane

The camera, mounted with velcro
Andreas, aka "The Swedish Physicist"
The plane, ready to fly

Here are some pictures from CDF, which is the huge building that houses one of the two detectors. The detectors are located on opposite sides of the 4-mile ring, and they are two spots where the protons crash into the anti-protons. In a sense, the detector is like a giant MRI tunnel. The collisions happen (millions per second) and the giant donut shape takes "pictures" of the resulting sub-atomic debris. These pictures are some of the more photogenic equipment we found in there...

I'm sure there must have been a plan
I don't know why they need liquid helium, but they do
Beautiful, in its own way
The Control room in the detector, where they monitor the collisions. Not to be confused with the Main Control Room, where they run the entire accelerator and where we got yelled at (see "trouble in the control room"
The Control Room, wide shot

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