Repost from The Limited Monopoly

Posted December 6, 2010 by aseoptics
Categories: Humor, Patents

Tags: , ,

posted by: Damon Diehl

John Hammond (our patent agent over at  Patent Innovations) and his colleague Bob Gunderman are the authors of a really nice newsletter called The Limited Monopoly. A few years ago they wrote a hysterical article entitled “Patentability and the ‘Long-Felt Unmet Need’—The Christmas Tree Stand as a Case Study.” In the spirit of the season, John has given us permission to share it here. Enjoy!

A Microscope on Your Cell Phone

Posted October 8, 2010 by aseoptics
Categories: Science in Action

posted by: Damon Diehl

Dr. Daniel Fletcher‘s research group at University of California Berkley has developed a microscope attachment for cell phones. Termed the “CellScope“, the attachment turns “the camera of a standard cell phone into a diagnostic-quality microscope with a magnification of 5x-50x.”

We think this is cool.

We think it’s even cooler that Aardman Animation (the folks behind the fantastic Wallace & Gromit films) have used the CellScope to make the world’s smallest stop-motion animated film. Here’s a link to the film, “Dot”; and here’s a link to how it was made.

Recommended reading: “Streets of the optical scientists”

Posted August 25, 2010 by aseoptics
Categories: History of Science

posted by: Damon Diehl

Greg Gbur over at Skulls in the Stars (note its new home at Scientopia) has posted a terrific travelogue of the many streets in Amsterdam that are named for scientists, with a large number of them being optical scientists. Greg and I both did our post-doctoral research with Taco “Yes that’s my real name” Visser at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and this essay made me nostalgic for that time in my life. Fun trivia: Greg and I also were both physics undergraduates at the University of Chicago, then worked in the same Experimental Particle Physics lab, and then we both attended the University of Rochester for graduate school (albeit in separate departments).

New posts coming soon…

Posted July 19, 2010 by aseoptics
Categories: Uncategorized

posted by: Damon Diehl

It’s been a really hectic few months here, what with SBIR proposals, a few conferences, and, of course, actual engineering. We’re not complaining about being busy, of course, and we recently hired a new scientist, Wade Cook, to act as Engineering Manager. You can expect to read posts from him here in the near future.

NIF in the News

Posted May 3, 2010 by aseoptics
Categories: Government Science, Science in Action

Tags: , ,

posted by: Damon Diehl

CNN has a nice glossy article on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).  The goal of NIF is to generate energy through controlled fusion triggered by laser pulses. NIF is now the largest laser in the world, a title formerly held by the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) here in Rochester, NY. There’s some friendly competition between the two projects, but the relationship is fundamentally collaborative. There is a constant flow of technology, knowledge, and even personnel between the two projects. ASE is quite proud of our long history of supporting LLE (almost everyone who works here as also worked at LLE directly or indirectly over ASE’s history). My big contribution to the lab was developing the alignment method for the large mirrors that focus the back and side illumination onto the target during some experiments, a topic we may cover in a future entry, as it has a very nice blend of optics and mathematics (which is what I do best). ASE also has had a big hand in developing the many optical diagnostic packages that monitor the quality of the system as a whole.

Happy Birthday, HST!

Posted April 27, 2010 by aseoptics
Categories: Astronomy

Tags: , , ,

posted by: Damon Diehl

It’s been twenty years since the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was launched on April 24, 1990. The Connecticut Post has a really nice article describing how the engineers who designed HST still remain emotionally attached to the project.

As is well known, when the first images arrived from HST, it was discovered that the primary mirror was flawed. The flaw was caused because of an error in the reference optics used by Perkin-Elmer to test the mirror. Rochester, NY has two notable connections to fixing this problem. First, Eastman Kodak’s Commercial and Government Systems Group (now a part of ITT Space Industries) had independently manufactured a back-up mirror for the HST. Unfortunately it was not feasible to replace the primary mirror while the HST was in orbit. Second, Jim Fienup (now a professor at the University of Rochester Institute of Optics) developed “phase retrieval” computer algorithms that were able to diagnose and digitally correct the images Hubble was sending back. This information was later helpful in designing the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) that was added to Hubble to correct the spherical aberration.

Giants’ Shoulders #22

Posted April 19, 2010 by aseoptics
Categories: History of Science

posted by: Damon Diehl

The Giants’ Shoulders (originally organized by a colleague over at Skulls in the Stars) is a monthly event in which bloggers from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds all write about science history on the same day (more or less). It’s always an interesting read, and this month it’s hosted at The Lay Scientist. You can see a list of the articles here.