Greetings, my Collimated Compatriots,
TLDR: Big Optical Society BBQ on October 7th at 5PM in the Allen Courtyard
It's that time of year again! The time when everyone begins to notice that the bike paths are more crowded at certain times of day. The time when you run into even more people that you've never met in your building. The time when shared tools break more often and staff leave even more passive-aggressive notes in the fab.
That's right, a new year has begun with fresh new faces making fresh new mistakes!
In celebration of this festive season, the Optical Society would like to show our appreciation to all of the new guys by giving you a healthy dose of free food and drinks.
That's why you should go to the Allen Courtyard at 5PM this Friday, October 7thfor a giant barbecue extravaganza party bash etc.
We'll have food galore, drinks, EANABS, you know the drill...unless you're new. Maybe you don't know the drill. Oh well.
To all the new faces, I would like to tell you a story that has been passed down by many generations of optics students. May it serve you well in your studies.
Meet Billy Lensman, an enthusiastic young first year in Stanford University's electrical engineering department. Bobby spent his entire undergraduate dreaming of working in a big high-tech lab with the most powerful lasers on Earth. That dream came true when he was accepted to the lab of Professor Hugh G. Fishensie, developer of a breakthrough technology enabling massive quantities of population inversion in a compact space. But no one could have guessed that the energy was actually coming from...the Light Zone.
[Enter a large white lab space chock full of the latest tech. Barely enough space for walking exists between a forest of vacuum systems and crowded optical tables. Those who manage to navigate to the back of the room will find a door showing three separate interlocks: "Danger -- Laser Accessible", "Danger -- Ionizing Radiation", and "Danger -- Unknown".]
"Oh boy! Is this the Mega-Laser, Professor Fishensie?"
The professor ruffled Billy's hair. "That's right, Billy. We are about to test the limits of this technology!"
Billy was rather short at 4'10" and had bright blond hair, freckles, and an overly excited expression on his face at all times. He stood next to professor Fishensie, who towered over him at well over 6 feet tall and wore a clean white lab coat and a pair of circular glasses which clearly had no AR coating on account of their strong glare in the room lights. His knowing grin emphasized crows feet by his eyes as he continued to further mess up Billy's hair.
They were in a large control room in the back of a lab with a viewing window into a chamber which looked awfully similar to the collision point in the LHC. This was no coincidence.
"You see, Billy, the energies we can generate in this chamber far exceed what can be achieved at any other facility on Earth. The most exciting part is that its source is entirely new physics! We seem to be obtaining output energies that surpass what is being added to the machine, and frankly have no idea why. We currently project a maximum power sufficient to generate a black hole at the focal point, requiring roughly the mass-energy of an astronomical body! Of course, that is just silly, so our goal today is to establish the true limits.
"But Professor Fishensie, isn't that dangerous? What if everything explodes?"
"Oh Billy, don't be silly, it's perfectly safe! We are making sure to only introduce a minuscule amount of fuel into the system, so even if it somehow becomes pure energy, it won't be enough to make it through this thick glass."
With a twinkle in his eye, Billy nodded emphatically. "Professor, what do we expect to see? There's nothing in the chamber for the light to hit!"
Professor Fishensie let out a hearty laugh. "Very perceptive, Billy!" Billy beamed back at him. "Of course there's a target in the chamber! Take a look at this."
The professor pointed to a pressure gauge on the control panel which read '10E-10 Torr'.
"We expect to see visible flashes from trace particles suspended in the chamber. Neat, huh? Let's power it up! I'll let you do the deed, Billy."
Professor Fishensie began the startup process. The controls all lit up, and a mind-boggling number of detector feeds suddenly appeared projected on the peripheries of the window.
The universe seemed to twist for a split second before the professor announced "all set, Billy! Take the wheel."
The room seemed unnaturally silent as Billy shifted his attention towards an isolated red button in the center of the controls. It flashed silently, indicating its readiness.
He slowly approached the button, reaching his arm out to press it down and make history. The edges of his vision began to erode. The button was everything. His only goal. His destiny.
Suddenly a hand clapped down on his shoulder. "Woah there, Billy, that's the emergency shut-down. Let's not be too hasty." He indicated to a small green switch amid a crowd of similar-looking toggles. Its label read "pulse rep 1".
Billy reluctantly pried himself away from the large button and reached for the switch. Second thoughts began flooding his mind, but he shoved them away.
Professor Fishensie nodded towards the control, and Billy placed his finger on the cold metal. He realized he was shaking and had broken out into a cold sweat. Was this really a good idea? The excitement on his face faltered for a split second.
Billy glanced back at the grinning Professor Fishensie. The glare cleared from the Professor's glasses and Billy saw a single twinkle in his eye.
He flipped the switch. Neither of them even saw the flash.
When you taunt the unknown, the unknown sometimes retaliates. It is dangerous to jump in full scale without first testing the waters, and trusting an authority to make a blind charge may result in disaster. The truth is that none of us have any idea what we are doing -- here in the Light Zone.