“What the Heck is X-Ray Astronomy, and Why Do We Bother?” And then we go dark til the New Year.

“Wednesday Nite @ The Lab” Public Science Talks

Wednesdays at 7pm CT

Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison WI, 


Stream by zoom at go.wisc.edu/240r59


For 14 December 2022

Hi WN@TL Fans,

The road to this last presentation of the year started back on April 9 when my son Will and I stopped by Chamberlin Hall for the Physics Fair held as part of the UW Science Expeditions campus open house.  After checking out the Exploration Stations in the lobby outside of the Ingersoll Physics Museum, we followed the signs beckoning people to an upper floor and into the X-Ray Astrophysics lab.

Here was the wizard’s workshop, the most intriguing kind of destination.  Here, metal-machining and cryo-electronics fabricating and rocket-making melded and welded into a detector designed to be hurtled to the inner reaches of outer space for a fleeting, four-minute glimpse of X-rays beamed from an inter-galactic source of heat most extreme.

I hope that for many of you the juxtapositions in this final talk will echo the wide range of topics that our speakers have explored and shared with us in the 51 talks presented in 2022.  This year we have dug into new carrots, and carried out ancient dugout canoes; we have fashioned prosthetics, and fascinated over plasma physics; we have delved into ground water and into sea ice; we have pondered whales and warfarin;  we have explored the history of printing and the printing of history.

And, we have discovered The Library.

It’s been a good year, and I’m thankful to the speakers and grateful to the audiences, both those who come to the room and those who tune in by zoom.

This week’s talk wraps up the WN@TL lineup for 2022, as we go dark on December 21 and December 28.   I wish all the best to you and yours in this season of holidays.

We’ll fire back up on January 4, 2023, with Molly Zeller of the Biotech Center reprising for us a talk that she gave recently at the legendary Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York on the latest techniques in sequencing DNA.



On December 14 Professor Dan McCammon of Physics will speak on “What the Heck is X-ray Astronomy, and Why Do We Bother?”

Description:  A story about how a rocket flight amongst the creepy-crawlies of the Australian boondocks is related to what our Universe is made of, and why you need to cool your X-ray detectors to 1/20th of a degree above absolute zero to look at million-degree gas.

Bio:  Born and raised in California, Dan McCammon attended Cal Tech in Pasadena and came to Wisconsin for grad school.  He has been here ever since, except for a couple of years working in Thailand.

Explore More:  https://wisp.physics.wisc.edu/xray/



Hope to see you soon, in person or by zoom, at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Tom ZinnenBiotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H

Please share this missive with your friends & neighbors. 

If you’ll be watching the Zoom for the first time, please register for the WN@TL Zoom at go.wisc.edu/240r59. 

If you’ve already registered for a previous WN@TL zoom this year, you’re good—you don’t have to register again.

Continue to use the link found in the confirmation message Zoom sent you when you first registered.

WN@TL begins at 7:00pm Central.

You can also watch the web stream at the WN@TL YouTube channel.

UW-Madison:  5.9 million owners, one pretty good public land-grant teaching, research and extension university. 

Visit UW-Madison’s science outreach portal at science.wisc.edu for information on the people, places & programs on campus that welcome you to come experience science as exploring the unknown, all year round. 

Here are the components of the WN@TL User’s Guide

1. The live WN@TL seminar, every Wednesday night, 50 times a year, at 7pm CT in Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center and on Zoom at go.wisc.edu/240r59 

2. The WN@TL YouTube channel

3. WN@TL on the University Place broadcast channel of PBS Wisconsin 

4. WN@TL on the University Place website 


Park for a small fee in Lot 20, 1390 University Avenue, Madison, WI