Extreme Engineering to Create the World's Stillest Rooms | Summary and Q&A

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October 18, 2018
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Extreme Engineering to Create the World's Stillest Rooms

TL;DR

Scientists have developed extremely quiet rooms to eliminate even the tiniest background noises and vibrations, allowing for precise scientific experiments.

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Key Insights

  • πŸ§‘β€πŸ”¬ Scientists have created extremely still rooms to eliminate background noises and vibrations for precise experiments.
  • πŸ“³ Passive solutions like springs and shock absorbers block mechanical vibrations, while active vibration control systems detect and counteract small motions.
  • πŸ‘‚ Soundproofing techniques, including insulation and foam, are used to eliminate sound vibrations and echoes.
  • πŸ‘± Temperature fluctuations are controlled through air circulation or by removing air from the room and using insulating materials.
  • 😁 Magnetic metals are used to block electromagnetic fields that can disrupt experiments relying on tiny forces or electron beams.
  • πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”¬ Different labs employ various combinations of these measures based on their specific research needs.
  • πŸ‘‹ Extreme stillness enables the study of distant phenomena like gravitational waves and the observation of individual molecules.

Transcript

[This episode is sponsored by Skillshare] [ INTRO] Sit still for a second. What do you hear? Maybe a siren across town? A jet overhead? But how about the really tiny noises? Your breath? Your heart? Your bones grinding against each other? These sounds are so quiet they’re barely there. But for some experiments, even the softest background noise is ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How do scientists achieve extreme stillness in rooms for scientific experiments?

Scientists use a combination of passive and active solutions to block mechanical vibrations, such as springs, shock absorbers, and rubber pads. They also employ techniques like insulation, foam, and fiberglass tiles to absorb sound vibrations.

Q: Why do scientists need vibration-free rooms for experiments?

Vibrations can disrupt sensitive experiments, such as detecting gravitational waves or studying individual molecules. By eliminating vibrations, scientists can achieve accurate and reliable results.

Q: How do rooms like IBM's nanotechnology lab and Microsoft's audio lab achieve quietness?

IBM's lab is built deep underground on bedrock to minimize vibrations, while Microsoft's lab uses multiple layers of concrete and air insulation combined with vibration-damping springs. Both labs employ advanced measures like active vibration control and soundproofing techniques.

Q: How do scientists control thermal expansions and contractions in experiments?

Some experiments, like interferometry, require stable temperatures. Rooms are stabilized by air circulation or by removing air from the room and using insulating materials. IBM's nanotechnology lab uses a gentle, upward-flowing ventilation system to minimize temperature fluctuations.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Scientists have built incredibly still rooms, such as at LIGO and IBM's nanotechnology lab, to conduct experiments that require precision and sensitivity to detect gravitational waves and study individual molecules.

  • Passive solutions like springs, shock absorbers, and rubber pads are used to block mechanical vibrations, while active vibration control systems counteract small motions.

  • Soundproofing techniques, such as insulation, wedge-shaped foam, and fiberglass tiles, are used to eliminate sound vibrations and echoes in anechoic chambers.

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