As we head into the new year, I will begin work on our second Project in LSL: Forensics. I will be working with Alicia to develop a curriculum that will be taught in 12 grade Advanced Biology and will feature: a murder mystery, blood  testing, gene sequencing, identification of DNA, and other processes vital to forensic science. Have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


The first step of the process for the project has been completed, which was to find a credible journal source that explained the survival rate of chickens. Finding a home for the hatched chickens is the next step, however it has proved to be a challenge because we’ve had difficulty finding a farm that accepts roosters as well as hens. We are currently looking into utilizing rooster sanctuaries throughout Los Angeles County. We have completed a rough step-by-step protocol from the initial incubation of eggs in a regular incubator through the care of chicks by January 1st, 2017. We plan to present the project to the Wildwood ethics board on January 10th, 2017 and hopefully purchase and own an incubator by the 15th.


The Life Science Lab has been formally announced to the public in a press release. The issue with growing and hatching a live animal is that once the project is successful you have at least one live animal on your hands. Right now, WISRD has no place for a live chicken and we are struggling to find a home for the future chicken. If anyone reading is willing to take hens and roosters please contact us at conorg17@wildwood.org.


Minimizing Risks

  • A substandard incubator will not allow for development.

We will minimize this risk by testing the temperature and humidity of both incubators (the standard incubator used days 0-3, and the bacteriological incubator used days 3-21) to make sure the temperature and humidity are able to be accurately maintained before we begin incubation. Throughout the process, we will check twice daily to make sure that the temperature and humidity are being maintained.

  • interference with embryos during the incubation process could interrupt development.

We will minimize this risk by keeping the chickens in a quiet, somewhat secluded area (the Wildwood biology lab) to reduce the risk of damage done to the chickens from being jostled or bumped. We will not allow anyone who is not a part of this project open the incubator door for any reason.

  • If the transfer from egg to cup goes poorly, then there is risk of damage to the yolk or contamination with bacteria.

We will minimize this risk by practicing cracking unfertilized eggs to maximize the success of the transfer from egg to cup. We will sterilize the eggshells and any surface the eggs will come into contact with during transfer. We will sterilize the incubator before eggs are introduced.


In June of 2014, Professors Yutaka Tahara and Katsuya Obara demonstrated that it was possible for chicken embryos to develop without the natural protective shell. The experiments conducted yielded a success rate of 57% (8 out of 14). Upon examining the official publication, we at WISRD found that the methodology of the original experiments was insufficiently documented. We are going to recreate the experiment as to better document the process. If we find any inefficient processes, we shall amend them as to improve the success rate of the experiment. The development of shell-less hatching for bird embryos with high success rate would be useful for the efficient generation of transgenic chickens, embryo manipulations, tissue engineering, and basic studies in regenerative medicine for the future.


Egg Facts:

Formation of egg.

The egg begins in the ovary of the Chicken. The oocyte, which will become the yolk, is produced in when the chicken ovulates. Next the albumin, which will become the egg white, will line the oviduct and will cover itself with the vitelline membrane. The egg white will then begin to jellify. The chalazae will form from the egg white, and begin to hold the yolk and the egg white like a pouch. After 5 hours, the egg shell will begin to form. The shell is made of calcite, which is a crystalline form of calcium carbonate. After ovulation, the egg is laid.

Formation of the Chicken.

The fertilized blastodisc, called the blastoderm, will grows and become an embryo. As the embryo grows, its food source is the yolk. Waste products collect in a sack called the allantois. The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide gas occurs through the eggshell; the chorion lines the inside surface of the egg and is connected to the blood vessels of the embryo.



The WISRD Life Science department is proud to announce the WISRD Ethics Board. The Ethics board is a committee in charge of determining if a life science project is ethically sound. They will ask question such as:

  • What are the short term consequences of this project?
  • What are the long term consequences of this project?
  • Are any living creatures unnecessarily affected by the project?
  • How will living creatures be used in the project?
  • What accommodations will the creatures be kept in?
  • What are the psychological effects on these creatures?
  • What is the scientific value of this project?

These questions will help guide the WISRD Ethic Board to approve or deny life science projects. All future life science projects must be submitted to the board for approval. Currently, the LSD is working on developing the process of the WISRD Ethics Board.


An important component of life science is ethics. Is it is ethical to conduct an experiment on a live animal? What defines live animal? How does this project contribute to the scientific community, and does this contribution out weigh the possibility of failure? These are questions that aren’t asked in the engineering field, and so they have been largely ignored by WISRD, until now. Myself, Jackie Lopez, Will Biederman, Stella Guggenheim, and Alicia Breakey will be the first WISRD department to develop an WISRD ethics board. This board will consist of 7 non-WISRD members who are deemed even-handed and fair. They will decide if a life science project can continue, or if it is ethically unsound. This is the first step in building a strong and legitimate life science lab.


A new year begins at WISRD, and a new day begins for my field. I have begun to collaborate with our new Biological supervisor, Alicia Breakey. This week we began developing a Life Science Department (LSD). The department will support incoming WIRSDs who are interested in the biological field. As of right now we are focusing on forensics and are in the process of building a curriculum to be taught at Wildwood School. I am excited to see what the future holds, but until we’re approved by the board we can only plan. Until this department is fully fleshed out and we have completed our initial goals I will be suspending my examination of Light.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 1.33.36 PMApril 25, 2016

The optical seismometer that the WISRD institute is build, is comprised of a pendulum made from a laser attached fiber optics cable and a photodiode attached to a operational amplifier. The light from the laser will shining on a photodiode, at rest. When the light moves away from the photodiode a small current will be able to pass through a circuit. This current is amplified by the OP-amp and measured. If an earthquake happens, then the laser will be swung back and forth over the photodiode. The frequency of each time a current is passes through can be used to determine the magnitude of an earthquake.

This seismometer is near completion.

April 19, 2016

Last month Gravitational waves were discovered one-hundred years plus after Albert Einstein predicted them. They were discovered using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). LIGO began development in the 1960s after the interferometer was first engineered. In the 1980s, Caltech developed a 40-meter prototype. This prototype wasn’t sensitive enough to pick up any trace of gravitational waves due to its size. MIT theorized that a 1km interferometer should be large enough to measure gravitational waves. Although the 1km interferometer project failed, it was the ground work for the current LIGO. The current LIGO has a 4 kilometer interferometer at both the Livingston Observatory and the Hanford Observatory. These 4km interferometers are so sensitive they have to be place in a vacuum environment to prevent outside vibrations. The gravitational waves being measured were created by two super massive black holes. These waves distort space very slightly. The large interferometers create waves that cancel each other out with destructive interference when they;re not moving. The gravitational wave distort the interferometers. This changes the the light waves of the laser and creates an interference pattern. Through the power of light wave, Einstein’s famous gravitational wave theory has been proven.

March 20, 2016

Interferometry uses interference patterns. Interference is what happens when two waves carrying energy meet up and overlap. The energy they carry combine in destructive or constructive interference. The patterns of the interference are dependent on the pattern of the original two waves. When waves combine like this, the process is called superposition. An interferometer is a precise scientific instrument designed to measure the center of the light interference patterns with extraordinary accuracy. The basic idea of interferometry involves taking a beam of light (or another type of electromagnetic radiation) and splitting it into two equal halves using what’s called a beam-splitter (also called a half-transparent mirror or half-mirror). This is simply a piece of glass whose surface is very thinly coated with silver. If you shine light at it, half the light passes straight through and half of it reflects back—so the beam-splitter is like a cross between an ordinary piece of glass and a mirror. One of the beams (known as the reference beam) shines onto a mirror and from there to a screen or camera. The other beam shines at or through something you want to measure, onto a second mirror, back through the beam splitter, and onto the same screen or camera. This second beam travels an extra distance (or in some other slightly different way) to the first beam, so it gets slightly out of place.

March 17

Plans for the future of the WISRD Light Lab

Current Topics:

Holograms & LASERS

    • LASERS
      • Light Wavelengths
      • Reflection
      • Refraction
      • Interferometer
    • Fiber Optics
      • Properties of Light
      • Seismometer
      • Circuitry

Current Focus: Fiber Optics

  • Properties of Light
    • Light guides
    • Fiber Optics kit
  • Seismometer
    • Circuitry
    • Light sensitive circuitry

Current Project in the Light Lab

  • Interferometer
    • CnC’d and set up
  • Measuring the frequency of the building
    • Need the interferometer
  • Finish the experiments in the Optics Kit
    • Red and infrared LEDs are needed to proceed
  • Seismometer

Future Projects for the Light Lab

  • Using light to measure the distance to the sun
    • Including a curriculum around it
  • Transmit sound through a Laser
  • Summer workshop
    • Using the curriculum from the distance to the sun project


Feb 22, 2016 – Conor Grice

Here at the WISRD space, I have been applying my knowledge of light, photodetectors, lasers, reflection, refraction to build a functional seismometer. A seismometer is a device that can detect seismic events. This has been done in the past with a suspension system or mathematically deriving the displacement of a suspended needle. I am using the design of the Maker Magazine’s Optical Fiber Seismometer.

Figure 1: Circuitry design for the Seismometer

A weight is attached to an optical fiber to suspend it freely in the air. Next a laser is attached to the other end. the light from the laser will travel through the optical fiber. The light will shine upon a photodetector. The photodetector is a part of a detector circuit. The detector circuit is built on a solderless board and is detailed in figure 1. The current from the photodetector is amplified by an operational amplifier, the gain is determined by the resistance of Resistor 1. The higher the resistance, the more sensitive the circuit. A red LED glows to indicate when the photodetector is receiving light. When the laser moves off the photodetector, the LED will turn off to indicate the light is no longer shining upon the photodetector. It can be hooked up to a logger program to map out the intensity of the seismic movement.

Wave-Particle Duality Part 2 of 3. Feb 9, 2016

In my last week’s study, I explored the history of wave-particle duality. This week, I delved into the science behind it. Firstly, I explored the difference between wave and particles. If a group of particles is flung towards an object with a hole going through it, then some of the particles with go through the hole while the others will collide with the object.

Figure 1: Particles passing through an object

A wave, however, is affected by refraction. Refraction bends waves around a solid object. As it moves through an object with a hole it will send some waves back and they will collide with other waves. This causes interference, there is constructive and destructive interference. Constructive interference will increase the amplitude of the wave, whereas destructive interference will diminish the amplitude of that wave.

Figure 2: Light wave pattern

Figure 3: A wave refracting

So, waves and particles have different properties. For many centuries it was debated if light was a particle or a wave (see Feb. 2nd , 2016 reflection). However, since the turn of the last century it is commonly accepted that light has the properties of both a wave and a particle. This all began when a scientist, Thomas Young, took light, and shone it through a slit, and then shone that light through two slits. Young observed the result of this on a screen. If light is made up of particles, the particles will pass through the slits and produce two stripes on the screen, approximately the same size as the slits. However, if light is a wave, then the two waves emerging from the two slits will interfere with each other and produce a pattern of many stripes. Young found the interference pattern with many stripes, indicating that light is a wave. In the early years of the twentieth century, the science of physics saw an upheaval of a magnitude unseen since the time of Isaac Newton. This upheaval is often said to have started with Max Planck. Planck was considering the problem of black body radiation (see Black body radiation notes). Albert Einstein applied it to another inconsistency in physics, the “photoelectric effect.” When light is shone on a metal surface, electrons can be ejected from that surface (see photoelectric effect notes). If light is a wave, as Young showed, then there are certain features of the photoelectric effect that are impossible. Einstein showed that if one assumes that light is made up of particles (photons), and if these particles have the properties described by Planck for his small bursts of light, then the photoelectric effect works.

Next week I will delve into quantum vector field which is what light is believed to be.

History of Wave-Particle Duality (W-P Duality Part 1 of 3)

In my last entry I talked about the Photoelectric effect. In this first entry of my first two-parter I will be discussing the rich history behind the idea of wave-particle duality.

In the 1700s it the idea of wave-particle duality did not exist. Some physicists thought that light was a particle. Other scientists thought it was a wave. Both thought each other incorrect. The first known hypothesis about the nature of light was crafted by Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE). This hypothesis stated that light was a disturbance in the, now defunct element, Aether. This was disputed by greek philosopher Democritus, often credited as the father of the atom, who argued that the entire universe was composed of indivisible sub-components, including light. Of these two schools of thought, Aristotle’s was favoured by the scientific community.

Over one thousand years later, Hasan Ibn al-Haytham became interested in how the eye can see. He wrote the first scientific theory of vision, combining the existing theories of how the eye can see. He stated that light rays perpendicular to the eye are stronger than light at an oblique angle to the eye. To prove his theories he dissected many eyes and conducted experiments that first demonstrated the concepts of reflection, refraction, and the first pinhole experiment. For his theories to be possible he claimed that light was a particle. The scientific community then switched to this school of thinking.

In 1630, the French mathematician, René Descartes wrote his magnum opus “The World.” In this René published all of his theories, including his theory that light was a wave. This was based on the idea that certain properties of light could be examined by observing waves in other mediums. This idea became very popular as René was the leading scientist of his generation. Thirty years later, Isaac Newton released his own hypothesis. The corpuscular hypothesis argued that because light reflected in perfectly straight lines it was a particle, as only particles could move in perfectly straight lines. Refraction was explained by saying that light particles travel at different speeds upon entering a new medium (problem was that theory predicted the wrong angle for refraction). This theory was mathematically backed up when other scientists carried out experiments that detailed the change of speed that occurs when a particle enters a new medium. The theory was further supported by Thomas Young’s double slit experiment.


Figure 1: Double slit experiment graphic

This was school of thought dominated the scientific community’s idea of light until the Ultraviolet catastrophe. I have detailed the ultraviolet catastrophe in my second reflection which can be seen below. This concludes part 1 of my exploration into the idea of Wave Particle Duality.


Conor Grice

Photoelectric Effect

The photoelectric effect is based on the observation of metals that emit electrons and light and that that electromagnetic radiation is made up of a series of photons. The phenomenon was observed when an electron collided with a photon on a metal surface the electron was emitted (see figure 1)

Figure 1: Photons denoted in red. Electrons in blue

These electrons are known as photoelectrons. Important concepts of quantum physics, like wave-particle duality, were developed because the photoelectric effect was discovered. Electromagnetic radiation can only cause the photoelectric effect when they are at a certain frequency. The minimum frequency required to cause this effect is called the cutoff frequency. From the cutoff frequency the amount of energy that holds the electron to a metal surface can be found. The work function is a directly related to the kind of metal being affected and the incoming radiation will not affect it. When electromagnetic radiation, higher than the cutoff frequency, hits a metal surface, an electron will be released with a kinetic energy. This idea was proposed by Albert Einstein. He proposed that a beam of light is not a wave, but a collection of photons. This discovery brought new life into Max Planck’s work, which linked energy to frequency. E=hf (E=energy, f=frequency, h=planck’s constant). All of this in combination began the quantum revolution.

Weekly Reflection #2

This week I spent dealing with the issues with the size of my interferometer. I also read up on the Ultraviolet Catastrophe and Einstein’s Photoelectric Effect experiment. The Ultraviolet Catastrophe is the classical physics that refers to how blackbody radiation interacts with the world. Blackbody radiation is an object that radiates perfectly (like the sun). If an object is heated enough it will begin to glow, as opposed to reflecting light. This irradiated light is always there, it becomes more intense as the heat increases. When an object glows, it is possible to analyse which parts of the spectrum are giving off how much energy. Or how bright the object is at different wavelengths. When this was done for an object which is radiating like a blackbody it was found that the spectra all have the same shape. Despite the independent temperature of the object or the material it’s made from.

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Figure 1: Three blackbodies at three different temperatures

The figure above shows three different blackbodies, each with their own temperature (3000K, 4000K, 5000K). This shows why light isn’t irradiating at lower temperature. At low temperatures (3000K) the peak of the curve is in the infrared spectrum. At room Temperature (300K) there would be nearly next to no light irradiating from the blackbody. In 1893 a physicist, Wilhelm Wien, discovered the mathematical formula which allowed for the calculation of the peak of a wavelength if the the temperature is known. This equation is known as Wien’s displacement law. The physics behind why Wien’s law works did not come until seven years later in 1900 with the work of Max Planck.


T is the temperature in Kelvin

Figure 2: Wien’s displacement law

Physicists imagined the electromagnetic waves bouncing around inside a closed box, to better understand the physics behind a blackbody. This space has a small hole in it. This allows the radiation to escape and be observed. It can be seen from the curves above that the spectrum can go from wavelength to frequency and back by using the wave equation ( ). “C” is the speed of light. The radiation being observed is electromagnetic radiation. It is produced by an electromagnetic field inside the space. Electromagnetic radiation can have many different frequencies. Because the electromagnetic waves are inside a space, the physicists imagined that the waves were between two fixed point on opposite sides of the space. Between these two points only certain standing waves can exist. This was commonly accepted to be true with electromagnetic waves in an enclosed space. This theory spawned from the idea that electromagnetic waves was another harmonic oscillator. In the 19th century, a theory called the equipartition theorem had been developed, and this stated that each mode would have an energy of . The equipartition theorem had allowed physicists to work out the kinetic energy of molecules of a gas at any given temperature. Because Electromagnetic radiation was thought of as a wave it was assumed that it followed the equipartition theorem. The Ultraviolet Catastrophe is what happens when the Rayleigh-Jeans law, which is based off the equipartition theorem, is actually applied to blackbody radiation. It can be seen in the graph below. The black curve show the observed blackbody curve, the red shows the prediction of the Rayleigh-Jeans law.

Figure 3: Observed v. Rayleigh-Jeans law

The red line goes into infinity. Because this is impossible and can’t happen in the real world, the Rayleigh-Jeans law was entirely disproven. This showed that the current understanding of physics was deeply flawed. This brought on the new age of physics and quantum physics was born.

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