Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Dear lab

My official departure date for Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium is March 1st. That means 5 more entries, excluding this one, in Bordeaux. Wow. When they say “time flies”, they’re not kidding.

Also, it didn’t occur to me that it would be possible for me to be busy enough to not update. Or more like, I’m just so tired after work that I want to do nothing except crash on my bed in hibernation and wake up in June. Why June? That’s another story for another day.

Something completely random – have you ever tried “salsify”? It was part of the lunch menu today and I ate it without really knowing what it was. Salsify – sounds very much like a verb, no?

Well, before being told that what I was eating was salsify, I thought it was radish or cauliflower stems or something of similar texture and colour. It was baked with cheese, so it was hard to tell. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of salsify before. If you show me the word, I’d have thought it’s a verb, kind of like “falsify”, you know? Or maybe…to turn something into salsa…I don’t know.

Still, I liked this new vegetable that has been introduced into my life.

Since I’m spending more and more time in my lab lately, I thought I’d give you a brief tour of the lab. Nothing is confidential…I think.

Doyen Brus tram station. This isn’t actually anywhere near my lab, but it is here where I go for all of my XPS experiments in an associated lab.

Ooo chemicals. These are all inside a glove box with a controlled argon atmosphere, which is required for my surface activation and peptide grafting experiments.

Glove box, or “boîte à gants” (BAG for short). If I remember correctly, during the 4th year material labs, it was my partner Mr.Ching who used the glove box, so I was a little intimidated by this giant when I first had to use it at the lab. Much more comfortable with it now, though I still fear piercing the gloves which supposedly cost 250 Euros each…

Heating chamber for samples. Degassing of samples takes place here and lasts 20 hours or 4 hours depending on the activation step. While doing an experiment two weeks ago, I was almost sure I was going to blow up the chamber. I flipped a wrong dial and the gloves inflated inwards uncontrollably. Man, that was not cool. It turns out I somehow created an entire vacuum within the chamber by mistake…and no the lab did not blow up. Sorry to disappoint you.

This argon pump removes excess argon from the heating chamber in case it overfills, not allowing the gloves to enter.

Buttons. Lots of buttons. I don’t like it when there are lots of buttons, because it makes me think that I will eventually press the wrong button and cause another world war. This thing is deceiving though. There are actually no buttons, just dials that initiate a vacuum pump cycle. The green buttons are merely indicator lights. So, it’s a lot less scary than I had anticipated.

Chemistry lab, where our group works. This is your typical wet lab, nothing out of the ordinary.

A view of the hallway. Our lab starts where the fire extinguishers are placed and extends till the end of the corridor, so the place where I stood while taking this picture isn’t part of my lab. Sometimes this corridor feels unusually long and gloomy, especially at night when the lights are dimmed or even turned off. It’s even more depressing on rainy days…

I don’t know why I’m blogging about my workplace when I’m going to see it again in 10 hours or so. Though, I’m proud to say that I don’t despise my workplace (yet) and I still go to work each day with a smile. I hope that lasts.


6 responses to “Dear lab

  1. Candy January 27, 2011 at 01:07

    ahhh are you excited? March 1, It will fly in no time!


  2. PoA January 27, 2011 at 17:30

    Time flies like an arrow.
    Fruit flies like a banana.


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