News of the Institute
Equipment used to detect and measure extraterrestrail radio emanations appears in a bewildering variety of sizes and shapes. Yet the various radiotelescopes can be classified by form and function under a very few heads, a procedure that allows intercomparison of performance and range.
To get experimental data from space vehicles to the ground, physical quantities (temperature, particle energy, etc.) must be converted to electrical quantities and then broadcast. Equipment for the Purpose varies according to the nature of the experiment and the amount of on‐board data processing desired. Early systems delivered fairly “raw” data to the ground, but as experiments grow more sophisticated, more on‐board sorting and analysis are necessary.
With plenty of beams and detectors available, students of nuclear structure are turning to computers in their efforts to get the most information from their experiments. Time‐sharing computers, real‐time time‐sharing computers and generalized interfaces permit them to control apparatus automatically and change their experiments in response to what they find.
Automated measuring of particle events is growing in popularity. Film from visual detectors, such as bubble chambers, can be scanned for events and then measured—all automatically. Detectors that do not require film storage can feed data directly to computers for processing. But the most exciting development in high‐energy experiments has been the employment of the computer as an active part of the experimental apparatus.
Multiparameter experiments simultaneously measure velocities of fission fragments and particles emitted by the deëxciting fragments. Semiconductor detectors make possible high‐resolution measurements.
Ge(Li) detectors and analog‐to‐digital converters are teaming up with computer hardware and software to collect, store and analyze gamma‐ray spectra. Running an experiment for a few days now gives more spectral information than one used to get in a few months.
Efforts to measure plasma properties have been responsible for many instrumentation developments. Diagnostic methods now include a host of techniques used in other disciplines: interactions with electromagnetic waves, particle beams, probes, lasers and spectroscopy.