At the APS, safety is EVERYONE’S responsibility.

They really mean it.  Before any new researcher comes to get “beam time” at the Advanced Photon Source, you have to do these core traning courses online and then take an exam to make sure you don’t mess up any of the cutting-edge experiments, potentially ending up with cuts — or burns — yourself.  Two thousand-degree electrons have been sent around a magnetic racetrack over a kilometer long and accelerate to 99.9999% the speed of light by the time they reach you!  As the website says, they are the brightest x-rays in the Western Hemisphere.  Where you come into contact with undulators and wigglers, then, it’s a good idea to dress like scientists in doomsday flicks:

  • Safety glasses with side shields
  • A hard hat
  • Leather safety shoes, preferably ones
    that cover the ankle
  • Long pants
  • A shirt with sleeves

I should backtrack.  A few months ago Professor Dodd became the first university faculty member to gain access to the Argonne National Laboratory, something she had been trying to do for years.  ARC has a number of Egyptian bronze artifacts that may be crucial to understanding trade in the ancient Near East, and come Wednesday she and I will be stepping onto a jet with 13 of them strapped to our persons.  These artifacts include figurines, ax heads, spear tips, and a dagger…can you just imagine how we’re going to have to explain ourselves to TSA?  We spent the better part of this morning taping them in foam and carefully fitting them into custom-made cases so that when we do get them on the plane, as I have no doubt we will, all we have to do is accompany each other to the bathroom to make sure men in black ski masks don’t jump us on the way. Now that’s done, and I have to focus on learning about safety procedures at thissynchrotron


to get here ———–>

Something surprising to me is how they have a section on Pedestrians, as if we were a distinct class of people.  Pedestrians “share the walkways with a variety of motorized/moving vehicles (e.g., forklifts, scissor lifts, and tricycles),” so before we step out into a hallway we are supposed to look both ways and make sure the experiment hall is clear.  It’s a good thing we’re from Los Angeles, where crossing the street is something between a sport and an art.


There’s also a section, WORKING IN EXPERIMENT ENCLOSURES AND WORKING ALONE (forbidding capitals not mine), that seems to have taken a page from youth sleepaway camps–nobody is allowed to be in an experiment station with the doors closed.  In fact, if ever you find yourself in a station with closed doors, the first thing you do is press the Emergency Beam Stop Button.  We actually have the beam reserved for three consectuive 24-hour shifts and I don’t know if our project is considered highly sensitive, but if it is one person also can’t be in there alone.  And here’s a final shot of the APS: