Thursday, March 4, 2010

March 2 - Day 2

Today we went to Oak Ridge National Laboratories. There were guards with guns who checked our identities.

We went to listen to a guy speak about biofuel. He told us that they are developing new technologies that turn plants into gasoline. They are working with switch-grass and poplar trees.

We visited the Spallation Neutron Source, the SNS for short, where they shoot a proton beam at 8/10 the speed of light and pulse it into a blob of liquid mercury. This hammers it hard enough that it throws off neutrons and allows scientists to preform neutron-scattering research. Although most people don't know it, neutron-scattering research has a lot to do with our everyday lives. For example, things like medicine, food, electronics, and cars and airplanes have all been improved by neutron-scattering research.

Neutron research also helps scientists improve materials used in a multitude of different products, such as high-temperature superconductors, powerful lightweight magnets, aluminum bridge decks, and stronger, lighter plastic products.

In another building is the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences where they do research with very small things.

After lunch, we saw the fastest computer in the world! It was very cool. Soon there will be a newer and faster computer invented. Then we saw the 27 screens that display the data of the supercomputer. We learned about “French awesome nuclear things”, also known as a fusion reactor that the French are working on.

After that we got lost and drove up the tallest mountain in Kentucky and almost ended up in Virginia. Then, in a moment of desperation, we ate at a McDonald’s. Finally we found where we were supposed to go – the Cowen community center – a great end to a great day.

Aristide & Michelle & Alessandra sat here while we wrote.

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