It’s not every day you get to meet a nuclear particle accelerator operator

I’m really bored.  It’s Saturday, and it’s snowing.  And I can’t go for a walk, which I really, really need to do but don’t want to because it’s snowing and cold.

So I’m going through old photographs today to post.

I have been talking about physics lately and I got to thinking about an acquaintance I made long ago.

In case you didn’t know this about me, I love going to historical re-enactments with my family.

Like seriously. L-O-V-E.

If I had a choice between a romantic candlit dinner and a chance to go to a historical re-enactment, I’d choose the latter.  No question.

We go to Civil War Days in  llinois in the spring, to the Renaissance Fair in Wisconsin in the summer, and the Harvest Days in the living historical farm in Indiana in the fall.

I think my all-time favorite re-enacter was this guy at the Civil war days event we went to in 2009 (gosh, that long ago already???).

In this picture he was developing old-fashioned tintype photographs.  It reminded me of the days when I developed black and white film in my biology classes.

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There was a lot of fun chemistry involved, that I won’t get into here. If you are REALLY that interested, you can read up about it here:

The classic tintype process.

Just suffice it to say it also reminded me of the early days of PCR technology, when I was silver staining DNA fragments that were separated out using a vertical polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis procedure (yeah, boring shop talk, sorry).  It was the first time since I’d quit my job that I got to talk science.  I was really thrilled.

He’d take a picture then develop it using his chemistry magic…

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…in order to get this nifty print on a metal sheet.

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But I was even more fascinated was his “day job”.  The tintype photographer was really a nuclear particle accelerator operator who worked at Fermilab.

I thought that was cooler than cool.  I spoke to him about an hour…and it was really interesting.  I wanted to know what exactly he did at Fermilab, because it seemed really amazing, but basically he said all he pretty much did was push buttons.   I had almost half a mind to ask him how much he was getting paid to push buttons on a particle accelerator, but I didn’t.

So, yeah, if you hadn’t realized before, now you know I’m total geek.


About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
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