My Lab

Category archives for My Lab

I burned out some diode lasers a while back, and needed to buy replacements. Here’s one of the replacements on top of the tube containing the other, with a US quarter for scale: Here they are, with the box and packing material used to ship them to me:

Dorky Poll: Cleanliness is Next to…?

Via Kate, a story from a legal blog about a decisions in the case of a messy professor: “Clean your room or get out!” Words from a frustrated parent to a messy teenager? Not quite. The mess-maker in this case was a chemistry professor at the University of Texas, who ignored repeated warnings to clean…

Experimental Physics for Complete Morons

Today’s lesson: Lead bricks are really heavy. That is all. Carry on.

Low-Tech Lab Essentials

There are a lot of high-tech tools that are absolutely essential to the functioning of my lab. The diode lasers I use are a couple hundred bucks each, and only available from a handful of companies. I’ve got a couple of digital oscilloscopes that are really impressive instruments, packing a huge amount of signal-processing power…

My least favorite part of academic research has to be waiting for vendors who aren’t actually going to call me back. Even when it’s a company I’ve done a lot of business with, “a lot of business” by my standards is peanuts to them, so I’m way, way down the priority queue when it comes…

How to Clean a Mirror

Let’s say you have a mirror– not some cheesey $2 makeup mirror, but a research-grade aluminum mirror– and it has some crud on it, say a film of junk deposited during your Summer Institute for Hot MEtal Chemistry. Like, say, the mirror on the right in this picture: How do you get that mirror clean?

Summer at ACME College

“Ahhhh… summer at last. No more classes. No more committee meetings. Do you realize what this means?” “Ummmmm…. no. What does it mean? What are we going to do this summer, Brain?” “The same thing we do every summer…. Try to do PUBLISHABLE RESEARCH!!!” ———— “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” “I think so, Brain,…

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…

Small Victories

Here’s my achievement for the week: OK, that may not seem like much, but this is what it looked like before I started:

Good Stuff Going to Waste

Somewhere between yesterday’s posts about uselesss junk and useful antiques, there’s this. The picture to the right is a tragedy in progress, though is might not look that way: It’s an FTIR spectrometer left behind by the previous occupant of my lab. It’s a top-of-the-line instrument, a Bomem DA-8 spectrophotometer, and a new one will…