Diamond Synchrotron, News

The Monks of Diamond House

72 Hours into beam time and you realize that it has stopped feeling strange that you have just got-up at 6pm in the afternoon and that the first thing that you do is to walk the 200 meters from the hotel (Ridgeway house) to see if the experiment is still flying. It is hard to capture the ‘sense’ of being at Diamond, at my first visit I was convenience that it is the closest thing to scientific monastery there is. The outside world starts to fade, money is not used (all transactions you your personal ID card) and you are surrounded by quiet earnest collogues going about their ‘observances’ (or experiments). Even in the canteen people talk in hushed tones and as you walk the ring you see people studiously crouch over computer monitors oblivious to the world. John says that he feels that it is seems highly appropriate that the experimental units are called hutches and we sometimes feel more like rabbits than a monks – but I bet rabbits don’t have the constant hum of air conditioning!! The cacophony of the jungle is renown with cicadas and crickets singing there unique tunes – here the jungle noises are compressors, liquid nitrogen delivery systems and the background hum of the ‘ring’. Earlier this afternoon John was engaged in a conversation with the chemist from the hutch next door (whom he had never met before) and the only part of the interaction that he registered was ‘tungsten telluride’…..

The cafeteria is open 365 355 days a year (OK Fred corrected me….they do get xmas!)  fueling our scientific endeavours. As you sit eating you looking down at the ‘ring’ as it sits as testament to man’s technical achievements. We have sat here for 10 minutes trying to find the words to describe the ‘ring’. It sits in the country like a large alien piece of architecture – inscrutable hiding its true nature, almost malevolently drawing you in to its womb where all yours scientific dreams may and can be realized. Strange how sleep depuration effects different people in different ways I seem to be turning into a poet, John’s turning into Baldrick (Sir Baldrick of Black Adder fame) and Ash – well he is the sanest among us but he from Neath so he didn’t have far to fall!!