Giant shrimp are coming! Giant shrimp are coming! In this case, the shrimp is not a crustacean, but it is giant. The $2.5 million, 12-ton Sensitive High Resolution Ion MicroProbe (SHRIMP) arrived at Stanford University this spring. This device will determine the age of rocks and the origins of the solar system by analyzing grains of earth or interstellar dust for differences in atomic mass. The SHRIMP fires high-energy oxygen ions at a sample at speeds of 350-km/sec or nearly 800,000 mph. The oxygen ions focus into a fine beam about the width of a single strand of human hair. The ions have a negative electrical charge. When they hit the sample, positively charged ions are "kicked" off. The impact leaves craters on the sample surface. The liberated ions travel down a tube into a curved magnet about 1m long. The magnet separates the ions according to their mass and energy. The lighter and slower ions hug the inside lane, while the heavier and faster ones accelerate to the outer lanes. The ions excite the magnet in a broad beam. They enter an electrostatic compensator, which reorganizes them according to mass only, removing the effects of energy difference between ions of the same mass. Scientists use these masses for radiometric dating and isotopic fingerprinting. FAX: (415) 725-0247.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.