Scientific tin-foil

This past week I got to take a tour of a very special place, LIGO, in Louisiana. LIGO stands for laser interferometer gravitational wave observatory, and the scientists there are looking for perturbations in space time by pointing extremely powerful lasers through huge vacuum tubes several miles long. By comparing the length of the laser through two different arms, the scientists are hoping to see a ripple in space emanating from massive stellar collisions. The photo above shows just a tiny piece of their enormous, cutting edge, and very spiffy equipment.

The other thing that’s interesting about Louisiana’s LIGO is that they have an awesome education center populated by Exploratorium exhibits.

The other thing that’s interesting about them (and now I’m getting to the point here), is that they use tin foil all over the place, and not just any tin foil, expensive scientist tinfoil that lacks the thin film of oil which ordinary tinfoil is coated with to prevent it from sticking to itself. When I asked one of the scientists what the tin foil was for she said something along the lines of “I don’t know, some people around here just seem to think everything should be wrapped in tin foil.” Hmm…. strange, but interesting.

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One thought on “Scientific tin-foil

  1. I noticed something similar at Argonne – I asked about it and people said that it’s often used as a makeshift heat-sink for equipment. It also helps protect the equipment from dust.

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