Springtime Sublime

Late spring on college campuses around the country presents perhaps the loveliest views to the fewest people—students have graduated and perhaps a few reunioners are the only audience.

Springtime Sublime


Cartesian Grid of Building 66

The utilitarian, earthquake-resistant architecture of Berkeley Lab amid the verdant hills of the East Bay seems like a science-fictional setting—a location that can’t possible exist—in contrast to San Francisco in the distance.

Cartesian Grid of Building 66

Winter On Campus

St. Lawrence University’s campus is quiet for the moment; athletes have returned early from break but pretty much everyone else is still on winter vacation. The snow adds an extra layer of dampening.

Winter Trees Outside Johnson Hall

When they return,  the school will once again take on its weird ski lodge vibe.

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End of 2018 (Recalling the Lab)

Professionally, 2018 was a good year: my sabbatical work was published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C. That came from a long time writing and a long time in this lab.

Testing Facility

Berkeley Lab’s Frei Group was kind enough to share their space with me, and I could not have done that work without this high vacuum line. I’ve always loved the way understanding the components of a system can take a complicated image like this one and break it into understandable parts. This image, in particular, gets less odd after the realization that this is two lines, mounted back-to-back, in the same Unistrut frame.

High Vacuum Line

Spectroscopy Lab

Approaching the summer solstice, the start of fall-semester classes and their attendant labs seems far away, but a new class of St. Lawrence first-year students will be here before I know it.

Spectroscopy Lab I

This was one of the light sources students were interrogating: a sodium lamp, like the ones used in street lights (at least in the twentieth century—LED street lamps are becoming increasingly dominant now.)

Spectroscopy Lab II

532 nm

In St. Lawrence’s Raman spectroscopy and microscopy lab, the most potent laser illumination source comes from a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet. This is a pretty ubiquitous laser source, but I happen to like it because it also demonstrates the value of nonlinear optics: though this laser is emitting light at 1064 nanometers (in the infrared), a suitable doubling crystal can combine two of those 1064 photons together to make a shiny new 532 nm photon.

532 nm