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Saturday, 23 May 2009 06:38

Shanghai Synchrotron jostles Australian storage ring out of youngest spot

HTML clipboardThe world's newest synchrotron has opened in Shanghai, but even though it is now only the second-youngest the Australian Synchrotron powers on with fantastic research.

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The Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics has launched the world's latest storage ring, adding to the more than fifty accelerator facilities around the globe.

It's the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility (SSRF), housed in a fantastic swirl-effect building as you can see from these gallery shots. What with the 2008 Olympics "bird's nest" swimming centre and others, the Chinese certainly have some spectacular modern buildings to be proud of.

Not to mention classics like the Great Wall (discovered to be several hundred kilometres longer than commonly thought), in Beijing the Forbidden City plus the Summer Palace, the clay warriors in Xi'an, and so on.

I see that the direction of beam rotation in the Shanghai machine is anti-clockwise, opposite to that in the Australian machine. That's exactly like the atmospheric low pressure (cyclonic) circulation pattern in the two hemispheres, is it not? Was this done by accident or design, I wonder.

I've always been interested in technology since a young teenager, way back in the last century. I graduated in science and spent the best part of a decade practicing as an industrial chemist and then a high school chemistry/mathematics teacher, before moving into the IT field. All things scientific and engineering intensely interest me to this day (as do spoken language, computer languages, application logic, software design and development).

Back in October 2008 I interviewed Richard Farnsworth, head of IT and controls at the Australian Synchrotron, and published a series of iTWire podcast recordings that you may like to review: Australian Synchrotron, Part 1 - IT and controls / Part 2 - Safety, and servers / Part 3 - Software selection and application development / Part 4 - Accelerator rings and beamlines

HTML clipboardThat was a tour with a brief explanation of the workings of the storage ring, together with  discussions about aspects of information technology in place at the synchrotron. This includes an amendment that I made just today, correcting one of the links in Part 3, the recording for software selection and development which covers use of Linux versus Windows, languages used, and much more. (Thanks, Steve, for alerting me about the failing MP3 link.)

If you're interested in leading-edge science, why keep up with what's happening at the Aussie Synchrotron by subscribing to their Lightspeed newsletter?

Here's the web page for the May 2009 edition of Lightspeed edition, where you'll find a subscription link at the top right-hand column. Read how:

  • - The Australian federal government is contributing $36.78 million for key onsite infrastructure additions
  • - The Australian Synchrotron's medical and imaging facility will be upgraded to become the most advanced instrument of its type in the world (after being awarded $13.2 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council and $1.5 million from the Victorian Government)
  • - The SAXS/WAXS beamline is at the forefront of a potential new non-invasive test for breast cancer
  • - Queensland company Mesaplexx is using the Australian Synchrotron to develop the next generation of microwave filters for improved mobile phone signal quality and data bandwidth.
  • - Beamline scientist Anton Maksimenko has released the first public version of an open-source software package to enable synchrotron imaging data (from parallel beam geometry) to be turned into three-dimensional computed tomographic (CT) images.

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Tony Austin

Worked at IBM from 1970, for a quarter century, then founded Asia/Pacific Computer Services to provide IT consulting and software development services (closed company at end of 2013). These says am still involved with IT as an observer and commentator, as well as attempting to understand cosmology, quantum mechanics and whatever else will keep my mind active and fend off deterioration of my grey matter.

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