Science is pretty cool by itself, but some labs around the world are practicing science at the extreme edge. Here are six science facilities that are expanding knowledge in unique ways and in unique places.
The Highest Lab In The World
The Pyramid Laboratory-Observatory sits on the slopes of Mount Everest at more than 5000 meters above sea level. Opened in 1990, the building is designed as a pyramid of glass, aluminum and steel. The facility is a joint operation between the Ev-K2-CNR committee and the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, and 143 international scientific organizations have participated in research. A nearby lodge provides rooms for up to 20 scientists, technicians and staff that take advantage of the laboratory to study the environment, geology, climate and human physiology.
Blowing In The Wind
The LENS-X is an expansion tube capable of reaching speeds of Mach 30. Short for Large Energy National Shock tunnel, the wind tunnel is operated by Calspan/University at Buffalo Research Center and is capable of generating wind speeds of up to 14,000 ft per second, roughly 25,000 mph, although they last only about 2 milliseconds. The facility is used for testing missiles, aircraft and spacecraft.
Sitting 60 feet below the surface of the sea, Aquarius Reef Base is the last underwater research station left in the world. Anchored for the last 20 years off the shore of Key Largo, the facility allows researchers to live under the sea for a week or more which gives them the opportunity to dive for more than nine hours without decompression. Since the base is so deep, the pressure is more than twice that at the surface and divers need several hours of decompression when they finally return to the surface.
Northwest of Toronto, near Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and 2 km down, SNOLAB is an underground science facility designed to study neutrinos. Additional astroparticle physics takes place there as researchers take advantage of the low cosmogenic background levels to search for cosmic dark matter and supernova neutrinos. The depth of the laboratory reduces environmental radiologic background, allowing detection of the very subtle effects of the neutrinos. Additional scientific fields are hoping to use the facility to study Seismology and Geophysics, among other interests.
Patience Is A Virtue
The School of Mathematics and Physics at The University of Queensland has set up an experiment with a long incubation time. Years long. Pitch, a derivative of tar that was once used for making boats waterproof, is a solid substances at room temperature, but Professor Thomas Parnell wanted to show that ordinary materials can have surprising properties, specifically, that pitch is actually fluid. In 1927 Professor Parnell heated some pitch and poured it into a glass funnel with a sealed stem. After three years the stem was cut to allow the pitch to flow through the funnel. And flow it has. For 83 years the pitch has been slowly making its way down the funnel and the ninth drop is almost formed! Surprisingly, during all that time, no one was there to see the first eight drops fall. Now there are live cameras so the dramatic descent of the ninth drop will be captured.
The world’s strongest magnet is in the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Florida. The 45 Tesla is made up of a superconducting magnet at 11.5 Tesla, and a resistive magnet of 33.5 Tesla. The superconducting magnet needs to be kept very cold to function, so the instrument is kept at -456 degrees Fahrenheit. With few hybrids in existence, use of the 45T is in high demand.
David Troutman has worked as an organic chemist in some of the worlds most coolest science labs. For more information on biological storage, cold chain management, and more, visit pbmmi.com.