After getting my permission slips signed, bringing my lunch box and wearing my best casual clothes an excursion was had last week to the Synchrotron. I lie about the packed lunch part, the Rotary club had a sausage sizzle. I kept on asking for hotdogs and the nice old lady kept on correcting me and calling them sausages, a mistake of the vernacular I'll happily admit to. For some reason the tour was laid out in reverse order, beginning at station 13 and ending at station 1. This made the whole machine somewhat harder to understand until the end, despite the huge amount of overly enthusiastic information panels. The amount of information on each station was a tad overkill at times, which only added to the bizarre machinery and their purpose. My stupid camera ran out of batteries as soon as I got there, leaving me with the unfortunate decision to use my phone.
Trying to understand the function of each machine was semi-pointless. Not that I didn't understand (to some extent) how it worked, but I merely forgot about it as soon as I moved on to the next station. Treat these photos as they are, meaningless testaments to feats of engineering, technology and scientific understanding.
The machinery there is so fantastical, so utterly ridiculously sciencey that no amount of context helps. Does X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy ring a bell? Powder Diffraction? Macromolecular Crystallography? Most likely not. The beauty of the scientific method is the level of reductionism we've reached at this point in time. This stuff makes not one bit of sense to you everyman, but nor should it. It only makes sense to those who have specialised in their field to the point of gibberish. And lordy does this make it interesting for everyone else, at face value at least.
I've put these all up on flickr if one were to want a better look.