Santa Maria College

JURASSIC PARK – In Miniature

October 5th-9th 2009

Mentors: Benedicta Arhatari, Corey Putkunz, Andrew Peele


X-rays are invisible light waves that have more energy than visible light. We use them to take pictures of our teeth and bones. But did you know that they can be used to take pictures of many other things to understand the structure of objects. X-rays can be used to take pictures of hard materials like metal and also soft materials like biological tissue. Why are they so versatile? X-rays can be high or low energy (like visible light has different colours which represent different energies) and this means that they can be used to visualize (image) the surface or the inside of objects.



The X-rays that penetrate through a very thin objects are low energy and the ones that penetrate through a heavy thick objects are high energy. X-rays can be produced by various instruments such as: X-ray machines, very hot objects in the universe, the synchrotron. X-rays are high energy light given off by very fast moving particles like electrons. X-ray machines have filaments that emit and X-rays. Other machines like the synchrotron has a big circular tube in which electrons are accelerated and at given points around the ring/tube they give off X-rays of various energies, which are used by scientists. The scientists at the synchrotron build end stations at various points around the ring and this is where they harness the x-rays to use in their experiments. Laboratory sources of X-rays such as the X-ray micro-computed tomography machine are very useful but do not produce the bright energy x-rays such as the synchrotron (but it is less expensive to use than the synchrotron).

X-rays have a higher energy than visible light but depending on the source producing the X-rays can have relatively high or low energy. High energy x-rays go right through an object like the ones at the dentist and so show regions of high and low density. Low energy x-rays only penetrate a small distance into objects and these can be used to study the surface properties of substances. To use high energy x-rays the synchrotron is needed but it is very expensive and sometimes difficult to set up experiments on the ‘end stations’ at synchrotrons. It is therefore necessary to use more conventional x-ray sources to do experiments to visualize structures.


Fossils can be of various types; castes, moulds or mineralisation where all organic content has been replaced by rock, and there can be fossils that may have some organic content remaining such as amber fossils containing insects, small vertebrate animals or plants. Simple photographs can be taken of these animal/plant remains but to cut the amber open would destroy the structure of these fossils and so would be of little value. It is in the structure of the animal and plant remains that palaeontologists learn about the organism and can work out how living things looked, lived and were related to one another. To get information about fossils in amber without destroying the fossil is very important. Having more information about living things in the past helps us to better understand the evolution of life on Earth.

Student Itinerary

Monday 5th Oct 2009

9.30 am

Introduction to Department and research-specific to CXS and other.

Location: Physical Sciences 1 Blg., room 221

Mentors: Paul Pigram (Welcome), David Hoxley (tour)

11.00 -12.30am

Intro talk by Corey Putkunz

Location: Physical Sciences 1 Blg., room 221

Intro to the XCT lab by Benedicta Arhatari

Location: Physical Sciences 1 Blg., room 107 (XCT lab)

1.30 – 5pm

Data acquisition

Location: Physical Sciences 1 Blg., room 107 (XCT lab)

Intro to computer Lab followed Student Research and Discussion

Location: Computer Lab

Tuesday 6th Oct 2009

9:00 am

Australian Synchrotron Visit

Location: Clayton

Jonothan DeBooy & Brian O’Riely (teacher)

11:00 am

Travel to LaTrobe Campus

Students brainstorm the experimental run for tomorrow.


Data analysis + Student Research

Location: Computer Lab

Thursday 8th Oct 2009


Overview of the CXS center

Mentor: Prof Andrew Peele –Brainstorm

Discuss results, what have students done, what else do they suggest. The questions for the way forward.


Students’ discussion and preparation of article and presentation.

Location: Library

Friday 9th Oct 2009


Student Preparation - Time for Talk

Location: Library, Preparation for presentation

2:00 pm

Student Presentation

Location: Seminar Room 221

Student Presentation


Research Report


Dear Dr. Barone-Nugent,

Thank-you for allowing me to have the opportunity to attend the conference. It was so interesting to hear what the scientists and PHD students have achieved. I would love to come again next year.

What I thought was most important about the program:

The Growing Tall Poppies was an important program. Not only did it help me explore my own capabilities, explore new interests in the field of Physics and explore science outside the classroom but it also has demonstrated the importance of working collaboratively in a team. The Growing Tall Poppies program revealed the importance of science in todays society and has inspired me to continue to study science.

Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Best Regards