Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Open doors day at Mitaka Campus

Last Friday and Saturday, it was the Open Doors Weekend in the Mitaka Campus of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, NAOJ, the place where I work. As every year since I work here, I joined the event as staff. The biggest difference this year was that I could speak "acceptable" Japanese, so I became part of the team who has to explain our work to visitors... Let's say I tried my best... and anyway, next year, I will be more fluent! :P

What can we see during this event in the campus? Is there really an astronomical observatory not so far from central Tokyo? The answer is yes. Our campus is the original campus of our institution and there are many historical places in it. For example, the Japanese Standard Time position was defined at the beginning of 20th century from a position in the campus. Besides, there are many old nice telescopes and some new ones!


I work in the so-called Advanced Technology Center in the development of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Sub-millimeter Array receivers. I will not explain what those receivers are, but I will post some photos. If you want to listen to the explanation, you will have to come to the event next year! ;)


Besides this great opportunity to see and even touch state-of-the-art astronomical receivers, there are some interesting technology and physics demonstrations. In my opinion, the coolest is the Meisner effect experiment. The core of our receivers is superconductivity and we have to deal with it every day. Therefore, it is nice to show some really cool effect based on it which makes kids really amazed! The Meisner effect is magnetic levitation due to superconductivity and it is used for the Maglev trains. Basically, when a metal becomes superconductor no magnetic lines can enter into it. So, if you put a magnet on it, the magnetic lines cannot enter the metal and create the magnetic levitation of the magnet. Of course, to get a metal to become superconductor, you have to cool it below its critical temperature, Tc, which can be close to 0 degrees Kelvin. If you use a High-Tc superconductor like YBCO, you can get superconductivity at around 77 K which is liquid Nitrogen temperature. That's what we do every year and get cool results like I show you below!

Of course, after all visitors left and we cleaned all the building, we relaxed with some beers and snacks! or Hanseikai 反省会.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a good blog message, I will keep the post in my mind. If you can add more video and pictures can be much better. Because they help much clear understanding. :) thanks Cavalieri.