Friday, February 01, 2008

Science Corner

This week's Science Corner comes from my lab. See, I measure stuff in air by passing a laser through a sample of air. A detector sees the laser beam after it goes through the air, and we use that signal to determine what's in the air. We're trying to reduce the noise - the random fluctuations in the signal. The noise comes from three things: the laser power changing slightly from second to second, small changes in the air sample, and from error in the detector itself. So my boss told me to measure the error of the detector itself to start with. The way you do that is you block it's eye completely so it sees no light at all, then you measure the noise.

1) The noise of the detector when it sees no light is called "dark noise," which sounds awesome. I feel all professions should be allowed to take terms and add "dark" to them. Accountants should have "dark taxes."

2) When a detector sees no light, it should read zero, but there is a noise that comes from random electronic fluctuations. Though it still seems to me like the detector is just making up numbers. Scientist: "Okay detector, what do you see?" Blinded detector: "Um, 4? 1? 7? 19?"

3 comments:

TastyMcJ said...

I knew a chick in high school that used to levy dark taxes.

Ɯbermilf said...

You should ask it "Who's the fairest of them all?"

slappy said...

Tasty: That's what she said. Wait, I don't get it.

Ubie: I did. It said Jiggs, so I unplugged it and dunked it in liquid nitrogen.