Accelerometer: Part I

This blog has made the terrible decision to ask me to do more regular posts.  Well, before trial and error catches up with me, let’s have some fun together…

As young single Caltech graduate students, we have become accustomed to making hearts race with our science.  We turn measurements and derivations into heart palpitations.  While this has been manifestly obvious for quite some time, we in the Oskar Painter group have recently been interested in quantitatively measuring this effect.  Because, as any good Caltech physics graduate student believes, anything (even sex appeal) is uninteresting unless fully quantified in a dataset.  We set out to make an accelerometer with enough resolution to sense the irregular and skipped heartbeats of our fawning admirers.

What follows is a multi-part treatise on the optomechanical accelerometers we developed.

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The TV Frontier

Hello, my name is Tim Blasius and I am a physics graduate student at Caltech.  I recently appeared in a comedy bit on the TV show Conan, where I corrected Conan O’Brien’s physics.  I have been asked to share a few words describing this experience.

As with any story involving unbridled success, it begins as a tale of unnoticed, under-appreciated  and nearly unending hard work – I usually watch the show Conan during dinner with my fiancé.  Accordingly, I have seen many segments called “fan corrections” where Conan viewers submit YouTube videos explaining mistakes that they believe Conan has made on the show.  Some are nerdy and funny like the one where viewers pointed out that Conan used a red-tailed hawk call instead of a bald eagle call.  I was like a crocodile lurking in the water waiting for Conan to make a mistake in my expertise.  Then, like a woefully ignorant antelope sipping from the river Nile, Conan made a physics mistake when mocking Felix Baumgartner’s free fall, and I, being the bloodthirsty physics predator that I am, snapped the jaws of immutable truth around his naïve self.

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