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Monday, 06 October 2008 13:49

Australian Synchrotron, Part 2 - Safety, and servers (iTWire podcast)

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Richard Farnsworth, head of IT and controls at the Australian Synchrotron, in a series of podcasts for iTWire, continues his fascinating insights into the control engineering and information technology used to operate this world-class particle accelerator.

Richard Farnsworth (pictured), head of IT and controls at the Australian Synchrotron, showed me over this facility, which is about the size of a covered sportsground.Richard Farnsworth, head of IT and controls at the Synchrotron.

The Australian Synchrotron is sited at Clayton near Monash University, some 20 Km southeast of central Melbourne.

We started at the control room, moved on to the server room, then went on a tour of the two rings to see just what all these computers were there to do, namely monitoring and controlling the main beam and the experimental beamlines.

In this second of a series of articles with associated podcast segments, we start with Richard highlighting the importance of safety in the synchrotron environment and the systems in place to ensure safety.

On top of the safety issues involved in any scientific environment, the main concern is the electromagnetic radiation produced by the synchrotron, primarily extremely powerful X-rays.

These of course are extremely hazardous, much more so than your garden variety dental or chest X-ray! And there are lots of other hazards in the environment, such as the fields of the extremely powerful electromagnets.

Safety measures range form the extremely sophisticated computer controls down to a simple but very effective manual systems based on the use of keys.

Listen to the podcast to find out all about this. You can download the safety segment from here (MP3 format, file size 1.5 MB, duration 04:36)

Richard then took me ot the server room, explaining the set-up of the numerous servers, and other related IT matters.

Are there any Windows machines at the Australian Synchrotron? Listen to the server room audio segment from here to find out (MP3 format, file size 3.0 MB, duration 05:11).  Apologies for the noisy recording, which I couldn't' clean up despite extensive sound editing, but please remember this was done in the real working synchrotron environment.

A second reminder: the Australian Synchrotron Open Day 2008 is coming up on Sunday 26 October, 10 AM to 4 PM. Entry is free but bookings are essential. Don't miss out.

More about the Aussie Synchrotron to follow over the coming week, so watch out for it!

Have some fun with a challenge or two that I've devised for you!
Go visit the iTWire TechWords Interactive Crosswords section.


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Tony Austin

Worked at IBM from 1970, for a quarter century, then founded Asia/Pacific Computer Services to provide IT consulting and software development services (closed company at end of 2013). These says am still involved with IT as an observer and commentator, as well as attempting to understand cosmology, quantum mechanics and whatever else will keep my mind active and fend off deterioration of my grey matter.

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