Engineer Hurt in Laser Lab
ROCHESTER, N.Y., Aug. 8, 2008 -- A senior lab engineer at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) was seriously injured Wednesday night after a heavy piece of equipment fell on him, according to media reports.
Laser lab managers said a 3-ft-long, 100-lb piece of aluminum equipment fell about 6 ft onto Sam Roberts, 32, at around 6:30 Wednesday night while he and others were performing experiments with the Omega laser, media sources reported.
The Omega laser, one of LLE's primary research tools, is about 30 ft tall and 300 ft long. Its 60 laser beams can focus up to 40,000 joules of energy onto a target less than 1 mm in diameter in about one billionth of a second. It is used to deliver laser energy pulses to targets in order to measure the resulting nuclear and fluid dynamic events.
The accident occurred inside a lab in the Omega target bay area, which conducts a variety of technical, and some times classified, experiments, according to 13WHAM.com, the Web site of Rochester's Channel 13 news. Samuel Morse, a facility manager, told the news channel that about 20 people were conducting experiments with the Omega laser at the time, and the laser was not involved in the incident.
"In the exact area of the incident, probably two or three people were working in the vicinity. Nobody saw what happened as far as I know at this point," Morse was quoted as saying.
"We were dispatched for a reported explosion,” West Brighton Fire Chief Richard Camardo told the news channel. “It appears that it was not an explosion, at this time that we know of a piece of equipment fell and hit a worker inside the facility."
Laser Lab Director Dr. Robert McCrory told 13WHAM that this is the first, and most serious, accident he’s known of in his 32-year history with the facility, and could be the only one of its kind in the lab's 38-year history. "This is an extremely serious injury," he said.
Roberts was admitted to Strong Memorial Hospital and initially listed in guarded condition.
For more information on the incident, visit: www.13wham.com; for more information on the Omega laser, visit: www.lle.rochester.edu
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