Nothing new here

2012/03/22 // 0 Comments

So it seems science has beaten us to the punch once again. Remember last week’s optimistic story on how you can make better use of your (measurement) time? Turns out it has been done (at least once) before. The year was 1993, the authors were M. Steinhart and J. Pleštil, and they did the same from a different perspective [1]. Credit where credit is due, their yet un-cited paper contains a good study of measurement stability and its effects on inferred information, and indeed has the equation for effective time-expenditure available (though written up in a confusing way). So all sadness on our side aside (as there is now no short-sweet-and-quick publication possible on this), please use your time wisely and cite that 1993 paper as it deserves. Do not let good methods like this be covered by years of dust. To give you some more ammunition for your citation-gun, here is a good paper detailing dead-time correction, and how Poisson statistics fail when these corrections are applied [...]

Making better use of your time: optimizing measurement time

2012/03/14 // 1 Comment

Often, especially when measuring on big facilities, you are given a limited amount of time. So when it comes to measuring the sample and the background, this limited time has to be divided between a measurement of the sample, and a measurement of the background. Normally, one would spend about 50% of the time on a sample, and 50% on the background, or even more time on the background “because the counts are so low” (I know, I did the same!). There must be a better way to calculate the optimum division of time! So me and a colleague, Samuel Tardif, spent a little bit of time jotting down some equations, and plotting the result. The result is that for large differences in the signal-to-noise ratio (c.q. sample count rate to background count rate), significant reductions in uncertainty can be obtained through better division of time for any small-angle scattering measurement. In the case of a Bonse-Hart camera or a step-scan small-angle scattering measurement, each [...]