Dragan D. Mihailovic
Head of Department
DEPARTMENT OF COMPLEX MATTER
Jozef Stefan Institute
I was introduced to the joys of experimental science at the Atmospheric Physics Department at Oxford at 16, where I was given the task to estimate the cooling capacity of a Nimbus G satellite instrument cooling cone. I was supposed to use a cumbersome laser (no pointers those days) to estimate the solid angle of the radiator, which I needed to calculate the device’s temperature. I ended up using string and sellotape instead, and though some calculation which I was sure that I got wrong, my estimate was 160K. I later studied physics at Oxford, and forgot all about the cooling cone. I also completed my doctorate there studying collective effects of electronic excitations in high magnetic fields and very low temperatures. This time I did use laser spectroscopy (this couldn’t be done with string). Many years later I met Guy Peskett, who was kindly tolerating my incompetence while I was at Atmospheric Physics many years previously, and asked him what about the cooling of the detectors on Nimbus satellites. It turned out that Nimbus G gave some of the first data on the Earth’s atmospheric CO2, while another copy successfully completed its mission to Venus. When I asked with trepidation whether there was any trouble with the cooling cone, the answer was, no. It’s temperature was 160K. This convinced me that luck has a big role in experimental physics. Incidentally, the backup module of Nimbus G satellite is now in the London Science Museum, so I can reminisce any time I like by going down to London.
Optics, liquid crystals, light scattering, optical spectroscopy, phase transitions, soft matter
Meden A, Kodre A, Gomilšek JP, Arčon I, Vilfan I, Vrbanic D, Mrzel A, Mihailovic D. Atomic and electronic structure of Mo6S9− xix nanowires. Nanotechnology. 2005 Jul 1;16(9):1578.
Berčič B, Pirnat U, Kusar P, Dvorsek D, Mihailovic D, Vengust D, Podobnik B. Transport properties of Mo 6 S 3 I 6 nanowire networks. Applied physics letters. 2006 Apr 24;88(17):173103.
Vrbanić D, Remškar M, Jesih A, Mrzel A, Umek P, Ponikvar M, Jančar B, Meden A, Novosel B, Pejovnik S, Venturini P. Air-stable monodispersed Mo6S3I6 nanowires. Nanotechnology. 2004 Mar 9;15(5):635.
Narymbetov B, Omerzu A, Kabanov VV, Tokumoto M. Origin of ferromagnetic exchange interactions in a fullerene--organic compound. Nature. 2000 Oct 19;407(6806):883.