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.
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.
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!
some fun with a challenge or two that I've devised for you!