Thursday, August 15, 2013

Another Mirror Lab Extravaganza!

With the next big mirror casting coming up next week, we didn't need much more on our plate at work, but the notice came at our Monday morning organizational meeting - prepare for an event on Wednesday that includes the University President and a congressman! 

These have come up before in the past.  The Mirror Lab is a high-profile site and enjoys some notoriety in industry.  For instance, a few years back,I blogged about another event that enjoyed congresswoman Gabriel Giffords who was critically injured by a gunman 8 months later.  This one was a meeting of University officials and local industrial affiliates pushing Congressman Ron Barber (who was Gabby's chief of staff and eventually won her congressional seat) in promoting a National Photonics Initiative.  From the growth of astronomy and the associated optics industry the last 60 years, Tucson is sometimes called "Optics Valley".  Mr. Barber agreed it was not a good time to ask the federal government for seed or research money, but was told by industrial officials that the US is falling behind in the industry as Europe, China, Japan and Korea all invest in photonics.  Both of these pictures is the same, but I couldn't decide which I liked better, the 4-frame mosaic at right or the 8 frame mosaic showing the test tower that dominates the optic lab at left.  I hope you enjoy both!

The event started by Ron Barber and UA President Ann Hart touring the Mirror Lab.  They were followed by a crowd of aids, security, University officials, and, of course, the press.  It was amazing to watch the crowd surrounded by photographers and reporters as they moved slowly through the lab.  At left, from left is Roger Angel, Regeant's Professor and Director of the Mirror lab, Thomas Koch, Dean of the College of Optical Sciences, Mr Ron Barber, Congressman, Ann Hart, UA President, and Buell Jannuzi, Director of Steward Observatory.  Of course, this tour gets to go where no one else gets to go, so they were led down adjacent to the LSST mirror being figured.  Here the group is joined by Peter Strittmatter at right, former Director of Steward Observatory.

The tour ended with Mr. Barber giving a couple quick video interviews while guests and affiliates visited a light buffet.  I'm thinking that a Congressman always has to be "on", as I caught this shot of him from overhead as he talks to the press.  This was followed by about 20 minutes of a statement and remarks before entertaining questions and ideas from the affiliates in the optics and photonics industry.  We had shut down the polishing operation by that time so that the noise wouldn't interfere, so I was free to wander and take a few pictures, including the panoramas atop this post.  At right, Peter Strittmatter at left and Roger Angel at right listen to Mr. Barber's comments in the distance.  The only resultant stories I've seen (didn't see the news that evening), was a report from science reporter Tom Beal

These are fun events, the Lab is certainly an interesting place to hold any sort of expo to highlight optics or local technology.  I'm sure we'll have them again - stay tuned!

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