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199 – Mass Spectrometers

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(average: 4.29)
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Mass spectrometers are devices for measuring the mass-to-charge ratio of molecules and ions. They use many different measurement principles and are used in various areas of science. Our guest Alexander Makarov works as a Director Global Research for Thermo Fisher‘s Life Sciences Division and has invented the Orbitrap principle used widely in modern mass spectrometers. We talk about mass spectrometry in general, the different measurement principles, engineering challenges, the invention of the Orbitrap, use cases for mass spectrometers and the different machines sold by Thermo Fisher.

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197 – The European XFEL

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(average: 4.30)
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The European XFEL is an x-ray free electron laser currently being built in Hamburg. In this episode we talk with Joachim Schulz about the project itself, the design and construction of the laser and the experiment hall, as well as about some of the science that is expected to be done with XFEL once it is finished.

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191 – String Theory

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(average: 4.63)
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String Theory is currently one of the most important theories in fundamental physics, with applications to a variety of subfields including black holes and cosmology, nuclear physics others. This episode is an introduction to the core ideas of the field, as well as to some of its applications. Our guest is Alexander Westphal of Germany’s particle physics lab DESY. He does a wonderful job of introducing the very abstract topic in a way that could be understood by non-physicists, at least to some degree.

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157 – Fusion at ITER

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(average: 4.84)
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This episode is about ITER, the international project to build an experimental fusion plant in southern France. While on vacation in that area, I had the opportunity to visit the site and talk to Richard Pitts about many aspects of the project. We focus mostly on the physics and the engineering challenges, but also address some of the organizational aspects of this huge scientific project. Note that this episode is essentially a continuation of omega tau 022 – Nuclear Fusion at MPI für Plasmaphysik; I recommend to listen to this episode first, if you haven’t done so yet.

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135 – High-Energy Neutrinos and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory

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(average: 4.68)
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This episode covers the discovery (strictly speaking, “strong evidence”) for high-energy (astrophysical) neutrinos. The discovery was announced on 22 November 2013. In this episode we talk with DESY‘s Markus Ackermann about the the evidence for astrophysical neutrinos and why they are important. We also discuss how the the IceCube Neutrino Observatory works, which opened up this new field of astronomy. We conclude with a brief conversation about traveling to, and living at the south pole, where IceCube is located.

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