• Question: What does your work include and what are the risks and benefits of your work?

    Asked by 492terb48 to Angeline, Catherine, Luke, Philip, Shona on 18 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Shona Whittam

      Shona Whittam answered on 18 Mar 2015:

      My work involves using radiation to treat cancer.
      The risk to the patients is we may not treat all their cancer or we may give their healthy organs too much dose. we plan the treatments very carefully and accurately to ensure this doesn’t happen. But if the cancer didn’t receive enough radiation it would come back and if you give healthy organs too much radiation you could give the patient a second cancer in the future. the risks could be high but the benefit is the patients live now.
      The risk to me is that I may receive some of that radiation but the benefit to me is I get paid and I like my job.

    • Photo: Philip Moriarty

      Philip Moriarty answered on 18 Mar 2015:

      Our research involves seeing, moving, and measuring single atoms and molecules. All of the work is carried out in ultrahigh vacuum (similar to the pressure in deep space) and often at very low temperatures (as low as five degrees above absolute zero). There are no real risks — everything we work with is not living and confined in a vacuum.

      We do fundamental scientific research. The benefits of this type of science lie in pushing the limits of our knowledge forward — we find out more about how nature and the universe behave. This video explains a bit more about what we do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehw8PTA4QkE

    • Photo: Angeline Burrell

      Angeline Burrell answered on 19 Mar 2015:

      My work uses radio waves to probe the charged portion of the earth’s atmosphere and explore the changes due to the 11-year solar cycle. The 11-year cycle is one of the sun’s periodic variations where we get a lot of radiation and storms at the high point of the cycle and very few storms and less radiation during the low point of the cycle. Each cycle is a bit different and I’m using data from two very different cycles, the one happening now (which is very quiet compared to the last 100 years of these cycles!) and the one that lasted from 1996-2007. Understanding how the atmosphere responds to the sun is important for people who rely on GPS, since the ionosphere can prevent GPS signals from reaching the ground. Being able to predict the affect of solar storms on earth is also important, since these storms can cause power failures if the right measures aren’t taken.