lab methods

Superstition

There is a very fine line
Between empirical and superstitious
And lab scientists tend to weave around that line
This is what happens when you work in a place
Designed to do things that probably won’t work

If you are troubleshooting a procedure
And you hit upon something that works
After three days of sweat blood and tears
You are not likely to change anything
About the one time it worked

You will have empirically demonstrated
That the procedure works
When you do X, Y, and Z in that order
However it is unlikely you will know if X, Y, or Z
Actually made the frustrating procedure work

This ambiguity can lead
Empirical testing and method development
To morph into something
Decidedly less rational looking
Than science might seem to the outside world

You might be pretty sure that
Using the thermocycler on the left
Had nothing to do with the procedure working
Because the thermocyclers are all identical
But it is not worth the risk of finding out you were wrong

When you have enough people in the lab
Doing enough of those little calculations
It is possible to end up with something that looks
Less like a rational experimental minded group of people
And more like a superstitious medieval mob

You might be laughing at that image
But try telling a lab of overworked grad students
That they will have to use a new brand of pipette tips
Because the old one has been discontinued
And see how long it takes for the pitchforks and torches to come out

I think the thing that amazes me the most
About the scientific method
Is that it manages to work so well
Even though the people doing science
Are so very human

-Notes from a Lab Tech
April 13, 2015

Carbon Monoxide Burning in a Blue Flame

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is toxic to hemoglobic animals. 

Carbon monoxide is produced from the partial oxidation of carbon-containing compounds; it forms when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), such as when operating a stove or an internal combustion engine in an enclosed space. In the presence of oxygen, including atmospheric concentrations, carbon monoxide burns with a blue flame, producing carbon dioxide.

  •                             CO + 2O2 → CO2 + O3 

There are many ways of Carbon monoxide production, such as:

The  Boudouard reaction ( Above 800 °C ):  

  •                     CO2 + C→ 2CO  (ΔH= 170 kJ/mol) 

Via the endothermic reaction of steam and carbon:            

  •                 H2O + C → H2 + CO (ΔH = +131 kJ/mol)

As a byproduct of the reduction of metal oxide ores with carbon:           

  •                           MetalO + C → Metal + CO 

By the direct oxidation of carbon in a limited supply of oxygen:        

  •                               2C(s) + O2 → 2CO(g)

A good method for lab use is heating an intimate mixture of powdered zinc metal and calcium carbonate, which releases CO and leaves behind zinc oxide and calcium oxide:

  •                        Zn + CaCO3 → ZnO + CaO + CO 

Silver nitrate and iodoform also afford carbon monoxide:

  •               CHI3 + 3AgNO3 + H2O → 3HNO3 + 3AgI + CO

More science and gifs on: rudescience
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Carlos Week

Monday: Science Day

Whatever science Carlos does, I can assure you right now it tends to be EXPLOSIVE. I think he experiments with samples he’s collected throughout Night Vale and tries to find out if they’re structured similarly to other everyday things. Like if they react to the same chemicals and under the same circumstances. (The answer’s usually no.) 

His scientific method and lab safety is usually a bit… flawed. He’s suffered from quite a few burns and cuts. But that’s never stopped him before! In the end, if something reacts or blows up, it’s a success.

The Executive: Aadi-dabbadie

Several reports needed to be done, followed by a drawn up plan of the expected income for the facility over the course of the next six months, followed by a weekly log of the information drawn in by field-agents working on tracking down ‘Experiment Zero-One’s’ wareabouts.
It was exhausting work, but nothing the Executive in his late sixties sitting in his quiet office infront of a single blue monitor couldn’t handle.

He wished he could be out experimenting in the labs, testing new scientific methods of producing the finest clean energy the world had ever seen, being out in the field tracking down his experiment, but somebody had to run the place. And if not him, then who?

He only trusted himself with the job. It was a tedious, strenuous, delicate job, but it was just the kind of work he was good at.

Boney fingers tapped away at incredible speeds for their age against a keyboard infront of the blue monitor. Save for that single monitor, a black wooden desk, a swivel office chair and a one way glass window on the opposite wall looking out into a blank room that looked similar to a padded jail cell, the room was devoid of furnishings.

The slender man removed one busy hand from the keyboard and hit the button of an intercom on his desk, leaning his bald head away from the
monitor to speak into the mike.

“Floor six, files on the regrowth of organ two-sixteen are needed in my office.”
The harsh light blue light illuminating his face glinted off of one congregated, hideous set of burn scars across the left hand side of his head when he turned back to continue working at the computer, his narrow, precise grey eyes scrutinizing everything that appeared on that one screen.