The first lectures that a few thousand newly arrived Penn State students receive each year when they arrive on the University Park campus usually cover the stories and traditions of the campus. The students’ friends, fellow classmates and upper classmen typically administer these Penn State 101 lectures.
Some of these stories are even true.
But a lot of the tales told in dorm rooms, discussed on the Old Main lawn and passed around the HUB-Robeson Center are part of a much grander university tradition: campus legends. Like their urban legend counterparts, campus legends are slightly twisted tales about the campus, its buildings and its people.
Here are a few for your April Fools’ Day enjoyment:
A laser that creates a three-dimensional picture of a bee’s head may sound like an experiment being conducted in Dr. Evil’s super-secret volcano base, but this technology is blossoming right here at Penn State — and it has real-world applications for research in agriculture and horticulture.
At a recent talk at the Millennium Science Complex, Benjamin Hall, an undergraduate student in energy engineering working part-time in the laser lab of the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State, discussed the technique — and showed images and videos that rival most Hollywood special effects. By placing an object, such as a plant root, on a moveable platform that passes under a laser, researchers can vaporize the sample section by section. The technique creates a series of surface images, which Hall then processes with a software program to create three-dimensional interior and exterior — and unbelievably cool — images of the sample. Continue reading Cool Images, Big Potential: Startup Uses Lasers to Create 3D Imagery→
I realized early that, as a research writer, I shouldn’t get too attached to my favorite paradigms, or my cherished biases.
Paradigms — those commonly accepted truths — are tested all the time in my line of work. Researchers are too remorseless in their probing and prodding for the truth to allow sacred cows to roam free in the wide-open pastures of commonly accepted knowledge.
During the past weeks, I saw Penn State researchers corral in a few paradigms, some that I accepted as obvious truths.
Here’s your challenge: create a poster about highly technical research. So far, so good. You can use images, photos, or cartoons, but — here comes the kicker — you can only use 1,000 of the most common English words.
Speaking as a guy who has to write about science and research and is typically up to my elbows in research papers, I do not accept this challenge! But, luckily, there are Penn Staters who are much more creative and courageous than I am.