Day 4 REU Notes

Published on: Fri Jun 10 2011

The fourth day of REU was an introduction to the linux computers. I printed out a nice cheat sheet of linux commands. I decided to quickly investigate how to build an Android app while everyone was learning linux. I used Google's App Builder for this, and while it does require no programming I'd rather just program an app instead of learning a new weird interface based on dropping puzzle shaped blocks of code together. Not having an Android phone to try it out on took away some of the fun as well.

I tried looking at the interference pattern in a crystal. I didn't have the two orthonormal beams set up yet, so I just used the fringe pattern from the quantum eraser experiment and a muddy calcite crystal. (By muddy I mean it was full of impurities so even though it was  transparent there were many imperfections for the light to reflect off of.) I could see the interference pattern in the crystal, but I think it would be better to set up an interferometer with the othonormal beams.

I was also looking for a LiNbO3 crystal. I didn't find one, but I did learn that BK7 is a type of optical glass. Previously I had not bothered to consider the glass used in lenses. Now I realize that different types of glass have different properties and depending on what you are doing you can select types of glass.

For the afternoon we went to the library, where I had good intentions to look for books on photorefractive optics. I found four books, three which I liked. One was called Quantum Optics, and the author is Scully, one of the first people to perform a quantum eraser experiment. I put this book back for now, but it looks like a classic and eventually I will probably need to buy it for a class, or just to have it close at hand.

The second book was called "Building Scientific Apparatus", and right now it is the most useful book. It has clear explanations of what things are, how to build them, how to find the supplies and what they are useful for. There are about 160 pages of optics apparatus including charts for different types of glass. Then it has a bunch of information about building vacuum systems, information on pumps, and another 200 pages on electronics, with titles like "how to build a power supply for your laser".

The third book is called "Introduction to Artificial Life". I picked this one up on a whim and so far I've read about 1/3rd of it. About four years ago, I was reading an economics book and it was talking about a simulated environment of sugar farmers. Reading this book on AL (or CA as the book calls it, for Cellular Automata) is combining several interests of mine. It is talking about CPU's from a completely different approach. Assembly language seems to be referred to as the rule set of the life and biology is talked about as the result of the ruleset. This book is more of a side project for me, but I intend to get the computer software used in the book for simulating life, and write a ruleset to simulate a life.

For today, I might put together the orthonormal interferometer, or perhaps go to the library and successfully come back with a book on photorefractive optics. I'm also planning on talking to the machine shop about taking the shop course.