Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vatnajokul? Are you there, its me, Sarah...

Happily, I'm in the lab on Independence day- I'll spend it interdepent on the Thermo Finnegan Element 2 ICPMS, I shall call it Finny from now on... Me and Finny are processing a bunch of Antarctic supraglacial and proglacial streams now for 18 elements. I have approximately, 5 minutes of dead time while Finny drinks the samples up in some ultraclean tubing and mixes with 17% of a 5 ppb internal standard of Cesium, Thalium, and Indium--- Finny is finicky, so the internal standards automatically adjust to the natural changes in sensitivity (ability to detect)that occur throughout a day of running samples. I also run check standards on the elements I'm actually investigating, but this is more straightforward than feeding Finny an IV of Ce, Tl and In....Its my 3rd day straight of running samples. I'm going until my eyes fall out an role onto the adjacent laser ablation table... the reason, if another scientist runs their samples, they will inject all kinds of nonsense 'high' elemental concentration seawater and digested otoliths (fancy word for fish ear rocks) that will ravage my ability to detect at the lovely low concentrations of 10 ppt.

Read about more artistic glacier interactions.... here

Monday, July 02, 2007

lovely labcoats

Again in the lab, no time exists here- its white 24 hours a day, just like an Antarctic summer... I've been here for 13 hours... and am trying not to wiggle too much- don't want me-dust flying into the clean samples. Sadly, I can't be sure how much neodynium I really contain. I suspect I am weathering... flaking like a rock does. My erosion is much quicker least mentally, in the fluorescent lights. I had the great idea of bringing books on tape... More boring than paying bills online. Tragically, the elderly man narrator gives women falsetto voices. Its not a good idea... very bad for the budding romance...I've given up and now its the 80s music that they start playing after 11....Good thing is that I'm measuring 15 elements at concentrations below 10 ppt with linear calibration curves... I'm also using internal standards this time, they are introduced into the ICPMS at the same time my samples go in... Like having an IV of gatorade in your arm while you eat a hamburger....mmmmm.... I'd even eat a hamburger now.... Gotta love the lab!!!