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   Chapter 5 No.5

A Girl Named Sandy By Paul Kater Characters: 11146

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:04

Astronomical observation

"We'll have to sit on the bed, " Sandy pointed, "I have only one chair." She sat down and paged through the book.

"That's not exactly a book for a girl your age, " Paul remarked as he sat down with her. Again the blue coloured rim along her blond hair struck him.

Sandy shrugged. "It's interesting. Oh. Here." She tapped the page. "I think I understand the concept of the MCAO, but why would that be necessary for the ELTs that are described here?"

This was not an ordinary kid, Paul understood. She was talking about Multiple Conjugate Adaptive Optics, a system whereby two or more guide stars or other optical sources were used to compensate for the distortion that occurred when light enters an atmosphere. Using those in Extra Large Telescopes (or ELTs) was a rather good value for money option to eliminate atmospheric turbulence, where each Adaptive Optical unit in an MCAO would filter out the interference of a specific layer of the atmosphere.

He explained the idea to her in simpler words, using a few sheets of paper and a couple of magnifying glasses she had lying on a neatly arranged white desk in the corner of her room. "So if you have one star there (he pointed at the lamp in the ceiling) and another one there (the one on the desk) and you position the ELT like that (his bag temporarily functioned as the telescope) you can use the AOs like this, and then there are a set of wave front sensors coupled to a computer controller to calculate the aberration, which then is used to filter out the distortion at particular levels, like here, or here." He moved the magnifying glasses which had to be adjustable mirrors for the sake of demonstration.

Sandy looked happy. "Wow. I think I actually understand this now." She went over another example and managed to work it out all by herself, which thoroughly impressed Paul.

"In a few years I am going to hire you as my assistant, " he said. "It still baffles me why you are so interested in this, but you have talent."

Sandy grinned at that. "Will you come back tomorrow? So we can talk some more? I like talking with you, Paul, you don't treat me like a freak or a kid who tries to be too clever. You understand me, and you explain things so well." Sandy put a hand on his arm and looked at him.

"I don't know, Sandy. Tomorrow is the last day of the conference. I am here with a colleague who may wonder where I'm going, and then there are of course your parents." Somehow he felt sorry for the girl, whose face lost the happy expression that had adorned it moments before. "But I'll talk to your father and mother about this. Our plane back home leaves in two days. If they agree, and when my friend Don does not have a problem, I'll come back to talk with you."

Sandy's smile was heart-warming. "Thank you, Paul."

There was a knock on the door. "Sandy, it's 9:20. Get ready for bed." It was her sister's voice.

"Okay, Angela. Thank you!" Then Sandy sighed. "School sucks at times."

"But it helps to make you clever." Paul rummaged in his bag and dug up a business card. "Here. This is for you. It has my e-mail on it. When I am back in Bristol and you have questions, you can always send me a message."

Sandy looked at the little card as if he had given her something priceless. "Thank you!" Then she was silen

ing quickly as he had a date with Megan. Paul saw the man push through the throng of people that tried to reach the table with free drinks. With some effort he too escaped the crowd and found a quiet place to sit outside, on a bench. Early spring sunshine made his time there very pleasant and he sent a text message to Timothy's phone about where he was, and that he would very much like to come along again that evening.

Timothy's conference was over not much later, so after less than an hour they were already on their way to the house on Southview Drive. Paul was welcomed back as were he a member of the family, something he appreciated, although it still felt odd to him. To Sandy's dismay dinner happened in a restaurant this time, so she had to leave her books at home, but in the evening Paul talked to her again, and told her about a few of the things that he had learnt during the conference. To his surprise the young girl took notes.

"You should not have paid the restaurant bill, " Adele told Paul when they had the living room to themselves. "It was our pleasure to entertain you."

"Oh, but I insist, I still do." Paul waved a hand, as to make his words more effective. "It was the least I could do after you saved me from the loneliness of a hotel room. Twice in a row even." And for some reason he really felt like that. He had been abroad and in hotels before, many times even, but this time it felt different. And that had nothing to do with Don's romantic escapades. The Royce family was just very nice.

"If ever we meet again, however, I am not going to let you pay, " said Timothy. "At what time do you want me to drop you off at your hotel?"

"Somewhere near ten in the morning would be ideal, " Paul said. "We have to be at the airport at six in the evening, which should leave me plenty of time."

Timothy assured him that it would all be fine. Paul thanked the kind couple again and then headed to bed. The conference had been an intense one, giving him lots to think about. Most of his thoughts after settling his head on the pillow, however, revolved around the house he was in, and the strange feeling of belonging, something he had never before encountered in such a way.


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