Monday 11 October 2010

Fibre Optics & LOFAR at Intech

At Intech last Monday I participated in an outreach event linked with Science Week. The event was aimed at 6th form students making A-level choices. Myself, Pearl John , Tana and other SEPNET people spoke to school children about fibre optics and the new LOFAR radio telescope.

Light-Sound Demo

We used a piece of kit which has a microphone (a tube with foil stretched over one end) and a headset seperated by about 2metres, which are not connected and get the children to speak into the microphone and watch their shock when their friend can hear them at the other end.

The only thing 'connecting' the tube and headphones is a beam of light, usually a laser. We explain that the speech and sound information said into the mic tube is getting carried along the light wave...? how is this working..?

A piece of foil is stretched over a tube which is caused to vibrate in a certain way depending on what the student says. Scientists would say that the sounds in being modulated with the light wave. This means that the speech information is sent along the light wave and can be received by a detector 2 metres away connecting to the headphones the student's friend is wearing.

optical voice link
We go onto explain that this light modulation with lasers is how the fibre optic cables work . Fibre optics are responsible for connecting us all together via the internet, and allow us to have mobile phone conversations.

Fibre Optics

Fibre Optic display

LBA antenna outside Intech
Myself and Tana Joseph also used our techniques which we learnt on the LOFAR LBA Build to make a demo LOFAR antenna. We then explained to the children (outside) launching bottle rockets, how the antenna worked.

Suggestions for the future

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