April 1st, 2010

me: ooh!

Spectral Squee

[personal profile] happydork asked me to witter about five things associated with the colour green that make me happy.

  1. Little Green Men

    Or rather the potential for finding life elsewhere in the universe. I find it unlikely that when we do finally manage to confirm signs of extraterrestrial life, it will be bipedal, green or sentient. In fact, I think it's far more likely that the first life we do find will probably be microbial, non-chlorophyll-containing, and somewhere in our own solar system. Also, extinct. But it will still be incredibly exciting. Given that the number of exoplanets we've managed to detect is already in the hundreds, I think this may actually happen within my lifetime - assuming I've still got another fifty years or so.

  2. Copper ores

    Geology probably counts as my first independent scientific interest. I memorized the Mohs hardness scale for minerals when I was nine. I saved up my allowance so I could buy samples from the rock shop in Ala Moana, the big shopping mall in Honolulu. For five years, my grandfather took my cousin and me to the annual geological exhibition at the Seattle Center. We even made a trip to Oregon to a site where I could dig for thundereggs. I loved malachite in particular because of the round, banded patterns it forms, and I still think it makes more beautiful jewelry than far more expensive gems.

  3. 532 nm
    Nd:YAG laser

    532 nm is the wavelength of doubled infrared light emitted from a solid-state neodymium-doped yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser. It is also, as you may have guessed, green. I performed more chemical dynamics experiments using this wavelength over the course of the five years of my PhD than I care to remember. It's a very beautiful shade of green, which is a good thing when you have to spend hours staring at it in the dark through protective glasses.

  4. Tea

    This (bencha or sencha with toasted brown rice) is my favourite tea in the world. I cannot be unhappy when I drink it. It tastes of Hawai'i, of evenings at home with a purring cat in my lap and of comfort films. It instantly calms me. I get through vast quantities of the stuff at work.

  5. Growing your own
    Sweet peas

    I never think of myself as a person with a green thumb. I've always liked having plants around, but I've preferred things that thrive on minimal attention from me, like cacti and spider plants, rather than nurturing delicate things or trying to grow them from seed. Since the bloke and I bought our house, however, I seem to have contracted British Gardening Fever. The photos above show the sweet peas I planted immediately after I put them into the cold frame to germinate, and one week later. I planted 2-3 seeds per pot, and it was really satisfying to return to find most of them sprouting.

    Leave a comment with "λ = 400-700 nm" or "Portion of the electromagnetic spectrum within visible wavelengths" or simply "Spectrum! Squee!" depending on your level of science geekiness/HTML knowledge and I'll choose a colour for you to write about, too.