Journey to the center of the universe

I had the fortune to visit CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research) earlier this month.  Located on the Franco-Swiss border, CERN is home to the most powerful particle accelerator mankind has ever built, the Large Hadron Collider, otherwise known as the LHC. 

Twenty-seven kilometers of tunnel under ground

Designed with mind to send protons around

A circle that crosses through Switzerland and France

Sixty nations contribute to scientific advance

Two beams of protons swing round, through the ring they ride

‘Til in the hearts of the detectors, they’re made to collide

I met with the team that designs the instrumentation systems for the particle detectors, huge assemblies that weigh the equivalent of 100 747s.  I have predicted AXIe and PXI to play a critical role in big physics, and discussed architectures with this team for a planned 2022 upgrade.  CERN has some very unique requirements for the ATLAS and CMS detectors.  Read the entire article here.


By Larry DJ

Half-time report for 2013 test predictions

In January, I made seven predictions about the instrument industry for 2013, each with a musical theme.  Now that we have crossed the halfway mark, I thought it would be good time to review each one and see what the industry is actually doing so far.  You may be surprised that they all seem to be going in one particular direction.

Read the review of all seven predictions here

By Larry DJ

Think you need test speed? Ask this astrochemist.

Frequent readers of Test Cafe may recall my predictions for 2013, particularly Prediction #5, “She blinded me with science”.  I predicted the continual adoption of modular instruments by the scientific community, driven by speed and size advantages.  I recently spoke with Dr. Steven Shipman, who described a perfect example of this to me.

Shipman is a chemistry professor at New College of Florida.  He’s a rotational spectroscopist.  Since a molecule’s rotation is a function of its three dimensional shape, its rotational spectrum acts as a unique “molecular fingerprint”.  Rotational spectroscopy has many applications, but Dr. Shipman’s research focuses on astrochemistry.  He is trying to find out how and why complex molecules formed in interstellar space, and ultimately how our life-bearing planet came to be the way it is.  Along the way, he also has interest in continually pushing the technology to make better and faster measurements.  That’s where modular instrumentation comes in, in this case, AXIe.

So, to find out how Dr. Shipman increased test speed by a factor of 1000, read the rest of the article here:–Ask-this-astrochemist-


By Larry DJ

Test systems in 1977

In my June 14 blog “Test systems in 1977”, I set the wayback machine to 1977 when I created my first test system.  Besides having a lot of fun creating a rather unusual data acquisition system that included a one-horsepower motor, I utilized an HP9825A controller, a multiprogrammer which was the first modular instrument, a HP3455A digital voltmeter, and a new bus called “HP-IB”.  At the end of the article I compare and contrast test system design in 1977 to today’s.  Read the entire article here

By Larry DJ

“Outside the Box” becomes “Test Cafe”, hosted by EDN

I’ve been writing frequent commentary about VXI, PXI, and AXIe in Outside the Box, hosted by Test and Measurement World.  With the demise of T&MW, and its consolidation within EDN, my blog has moved.  It is now “Test Cafe“.  Don’t worry, it will keep the same focus on modular instrumentation as before.  Better still, all my previous blog posts have been transferred to Test Cafe, so you can find all commentary going back to the beginning.  And, even better, Modular Matters still serves as a searchable archive for all of my articles and blogs, and will automatically redirect to the correct URL within Test Cafe.  How cool is that?

So, either follow Modular Matters by clicking the “Follow” tab at the lower right hand corner of the website, or update your bookmarks to include the link to Test Cafe here.  Modular Matters will link to all new content from me, whether in Test Cafe, or as a separate article or newsletter, so that remains a very good option. 

Larry Desjardin

By Larry DJ