Lab Stories

Category archives for Lab Stories

As I said in the introduction to the previous post, this was the first paper on which I was the lead author, and it may be my favorite paper of my career to date. I had a terrific time with it, and it led to enough good stories that I’m going to split the making-of…

This paper is the third of the articles I wrote when I was a grad student, and the first one where I was the lead author. It’s also probably my favorite of the lot, not just because of the role it played in my career, but because it packs a lot of science into four…

One of the things I’d like to accomplish with the current series of posts is to give a little insight into what it’s like to do science. This should probably seem familiar to those readers who are experimental scientists, but might be new to those who aren’t. I think that this is one of the…

I’ve been slacking a bit, lately, in terms of putting science-related content on the blog. Up until last week, most of my physics-explaining energy was going into working on the book, and on top of that, I’ve been a little preoccupied with planning for the arrival of FutureBaby. I’d like to push things back in…

True Lab Stories: Fire Safety

Typing up the demolition story reminded me of another before-my-time NIST story. Again, the statute of limitations has run, so it’s probably safe to tell this. As mentioned in the earlier post, it was very expensive to get the official facilities team at NIST to do construction work, so a lot of things used to…

True Lab Stories: Demolition Men

This is actually sort of a pre-lab story, as it happened before my lab in grad school was even established. It pre-dates my time at NIST, and happened long enough ago that the statute of limitations has surely run out, so I feel safe telling it. The lab I worked in in grad school was…

True Lab Stories: The Oaf Effect

It’s been a while since I did one of these (see “How to Tell a True Lab Story” for an explanation), but yesterday’s laser tech story reminded me of one. The lab next to mine in grad school also used an argon ion laser to pump another laser, but they were much more cramped for…

True Lab Stories: Why I Am Not a Biologist

Every now and then, usually in the summer or early fall, when the sun is shining and it’s just pleasant to be outdoors, I find myself almost regretting my career choices. After all, had I chosen a career in the biological sciences, rather than laser physics, I could do my research outside in the nice…

A week or two ago, one of my students measured the power output of a grating-locked diode laser, and came into my office saying “I think I may have killed the laser.” The power output was much too low for a laser of that type, which is a bad sign. So, we went down to…

It’s been ages since I posted a True Lab Story, mostly because I’ve been too busy to do anything really dumb. I had a good day for True Lab Stories yesterday, though, so here’s a tale of something idiotic I did, or, rather, had my students do. I have a student working on a project…