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

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, […]

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 […]