Raisin Bread in Space


The science editor of the Orange County Register News visited us to do a special article on Orange County Companies who are involved in space research. He first interviewed me for about half an hour. One of our more interesting space projects, which I attempted to explain to him was the three-dimensional recording and analysis of particle fields in space using holography. He was having considerable trouble understanding what I was explaining so I called in Robert and Frank, who are doing some experiments and asked them to show the reporter some examples and explain to him. They took him to the lab and I forgot all about the story until the next day, when I saw Robert at the coffee pot.

Robert explained how difficult it had been to explain to the reporter. They would scan through a three dimensional image produced by the holograms we had made in space, focusing on particles one by one until they scanned the whole volume, showing how we could track particles precisely in three-D, measuring microgravity effects on particle motion. The reporter had considerable difficulty understanding what we were doing, until Frank came forth with a good analogy that cleared things up.

Frank said, "Consider if you had a loaf of raisin bread and wanted to find the distribution of raisins in the bread. You could slice it off in thin slices one by one until you had located each raisin. How we can do the same sort of thing optically with lasers, slicing a three-dimensional image up optically until we find all of the raisins, and we don't have to touch the space where the bread is. "Oh, I see now," said the reporter, "That clears up everything". Today, we got the galley proof of the MetroLaser portion of his article. It read something like the following.

"Not all of the Orange County Companies involved in space are large. Take MetroLaser Inc., for example, a thirty-five man company in Irvine. This group of scientists produce extremely high tech and esoteric solution to all kinds of measurement problems using advanced optics and lasers. These brilliant, if a bit nerdy, scientists are providing solutions that make life easier for astronauts in space. They have developed an advanced method for slicing raisin bread in microgravity that is so sophisticated that they can tell where the raisins are even before the bread is sliced." My first reaction was "Robert...............tell him it's perfect. Print it." Unfortunately, Robert had already explained to the reporter that MetroLaser does not slice bread in space.




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