2017-2018 Calendar

March 15, 2018 - Dennis Leiner

Click to Signup Location: MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 3 Forbes Road, Lexington, MA 02420
Dinner Reservation Deadline: March 12, 2018 @ 6pm

“You’re Going to Put That Where?” Endoscope Optics and How to Make Them Smaller

Ever since the 1800’s when new endoscope designs were tested with sword swallowers, doctors and patients have been pushing engineers to develop smaller and smaller endoscopes with improved image clarity. Stacks of dozens of lenses with diameters of only a few millimeters were used for the best endoscopic optics until the middle of the twentieth century. Although video imaging became popular in the 1980’s, these systems used cameras much too big to fit inside the body. The development of smartphones incorporating high quality miniature cameras allowed the medical industry to take advantage of this improved technology and the huge amounts of money spent to perfect these systems.

This talk follows the development of endoscopes from Bozzini in 1806 to the latest 3D “chip-on-tip” robotic laparoscopes manufactured today by Intuitive Surgical, Inc. We’ll discuss the different technologies employed for accessing the different parts of the body.

We’ll finish with a discussion of current trends in the endoscope industry and the challenges facing engineers in meeting the demands of physicians.

Read more: March 15, 2018 - Dennis Leiner

February 15, 2018 - Jane Luu

Click to Signup Location: MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 3 Forbes Road, Lexington, MA 02420
Dinner Reservation Deadline: February 12, 2018 @ 6pm

The Kuiper Belt and its implications

The discovery of the Kuiper Belt not only proved that planetary accretion did not stop at the orbit of Neptune or Pluto, but it also made it very clear that our inventory of the solar system was far from complete.   It also clarified Pluto’s origin as a large and misclassified Kuiper Belt object.  This talk will elaborate on these and other implications for the Kuiper Belt.

Read more: February 15, 2018 - Jane Luu

January 18, 2018 - Jenna Samra

Click to Signup Location: MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 3 Forbes Road, Lexington, MA 02420
Dinner Reservation Deadline: January 15, 2018 @ 6pm

An Airborne Infrared Spectrometer (AIR-Spec) for Solar Eclipse Observations

On August 21, 2017, the Airborne Infrared Spectrometer (AIR-Spec) observed the total solar eclipse at an altitude of 14 km from aboard the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream V research aircraft. The instrument successfully observed the five coronal emission lines that it was designed to measure: Si X (1.43µm), S XI (1.92µm), Fe IX (2.85µm), Mg VIII (3.03µm), and Si IX (3.94µm). The linewidths, peak intensities, and center wavelengths of all five lines were measured radially outward from the limb at four positions in the corona. Characterizing these magnetically sensitive emission lines is an important first step in designing future instruments to monitor the coronal magnetic field, which drives space weather events as well as coronal heating, structure, and dynamics.

The AIR-Spec instrument includes an image stabilization system, feed telescope, grating spectrometer, and slit-jaw imager. The image stabilization system uses a fast steering mirror to correct the line-of-sight for platform perturbations, which are measured by a set of fiber-optic gyroscopes. The telescope collects light over a 0.4 degree (1.5 solar radius) field of view and feeds it into the spectrometer, which is based on a planar diffraction grating operating near the Littrow condition. The five wavelengths of interest are divided into two channels and imaged onto the cryogen-cooled InSb detector. The spectrometer optics are housed in a vacuum chamber and cooled with liquid nitrogen.

The instrument development and mission planning faced three major challenges. First, the line-of-sight stabilization system was required to operate without knowledge of the image, so that it could be tested and proven before the eclipse. Second, the thermal instrument background had to be dramatically reduced to allow the spectrometer to detect the faint coronal signal. Third, the flight plan needed to maximize the time spent in totality while optimizing the orientation of the aircraft before and during totality. The resolution of these issues had implications for both science and operations.

Read more: January 18, 2018 - Jenna Samra

October 10, 2017 - Rainer Weiss

Click to Signup Location: Rebecca's Cafe, 275 Grove St., Auburndale, MA 02466
Dinner Reservation Deadline: Thursday October 5, 2017 @ 6pm

Beginning the Exploration of the Universe with Gravitational Waves

The recent observation of gravitational waves from the merger of binary black holes opens a new way to learn about the universe as well as to test General Relativity in the limit of strong gravitational interactions – the dynamics of massive bodies traveling at relativistic speeds in a highly curved space-time. The lecture will describe some of the difficult history of gravitational waves proposed exactly 100 years ago.  The concepts used in the instruments and the methods for data analysis that enable the measurement of gravitational wave strains of 10-21 and smaller will be presented. The results derived from the measured waveforms, their relation to the Einstein field equations and the astrophysical implications are discussed. The talk will end with our vision for the future of gravitational wave astronomy.

The viewgraphs for this talk are posted at: https://emvogil-3.mit.edu/~weiss/osa2017/osa_2017.pptx

A facebook video of the talk is at: https://www.facebook.com/opticalsociety/videos/10159610140830492/

Read more: October 10, 2017 - Rainer Weiss

November 16, 2017 - David Shafer

Click to Signup Location: MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 3 Forbes Road, Lexington, MA 02420
Dinner Reservation Deadline: November 13, 2017 @ 6pm

Highlights of my 51 Years in Optical Design

Dave Shafer will show many examples of interesting optical design projects from his long career (still going, by the way).  These include a formerly top secret new way to detect the presence of Russian submarines, with technology that can now - 50 years later - be bought for $50 on the internet and used to see if you (a movie star) are being stalked by paparazzi.  Also an  optical device, which you probably have in your home, that allows one to see back through the door peep-hole viewers from the outside and reverse their function, now used by police and firemen.  An unusual new type of stereo viewer was designed for Salvador Dali, who had done some stereo painting pairs.  Dave's lithographic designs for making computer chips are made by Zeiss and they have made many hundreds at a cost about $50 million each, with highly aspheric surfaces that are made to atomic level accuracy.



Read more: November 16, 2017 - David Shafer