31 July 2013


One of the best things about research and the most challenging are the continually moving goals.  These can happen for several reasons such as availability of equipment, technology, current theory, and discoveries that launch scientists into new domains.  Therefore, research requires a certain bit of flexibility about it because one never knows if and when their goal can change.

The challenge comes from the ever changing goal and the fact that once reached, it may or may not be the end of things to come.  For instance, there was a time when elements like oxygen, hydrogen, and helium were believed to never be any other state other than a gas.  However, as experiments progresses, one after another the gases were liquified.  This created a continually moving goal as one after another gas was liquified, with helium being the last.  The challenge is not only to work hard to attain the multitude of goals but to be continually searching for where others may come from in the future.

The looking towards the future is one of the best things about research.  It rarely ends but is a continual journey into the unknown.  Just when something is figured out, more questions appear needing to be answered such as:  Why did this happen?  How is it working?  Are there any ways this information can be used? And of course many more questions about the phenomena that was being studied.  This makes it exciting because there is always an unknown to investigate and more to consider just around the corner!

19 July 2013

Welcome Back - and the New Lab

It is always great to be welcomed back to an environment one is familiar with and the same can be said of research.  While there is always a little trepidation with starting something new it helps to know how to approach where you are headed.  The following entries are a follow up to the first research experience as a second year of research ensues.  There is a new lab and with it new challenges and experiences.

This year the goal is to find out new things about Terahertz spectroscopy with respect to several samples.  As of now, much of what we know about the world around us comes from investigating via the electromagnetic spectrum.  Up to this point scientists have studied many things through the spectrum building up fairly complete pictures in certain wavelengths such as the Infrared and Ultraviolet. However, there are still areas to investigate and one of these areas is the Terahertz regime.  The goal of the project is to simply learn more about how objects behave spectroscopically in this area of the electromagnetic spectrum.

One of the greatest things that science has to offer is the unknown.  Science is constantly pushing boundaries to invent new technology, discover affects never seen before, and create theories about how the world around us functions.  The exciting thing about the experiment being worked on is that we do not know what will happen.  It may be that our samples give us spectra and we can investigate these.  It also may be that we are given nothing with the spectroscopy and this is still good because it gives us new information.  This means when gathering information and researching topics one has to look at the information in pieces from different sources to try and create an expected picture where from there the experiment can be set up and followed through.  Either way, we are moving to the unknown to see what nature has to offer us.