Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Analysis Troubles

Author: Duncan Peabody

We finished our week of 12 hour days in the lab last week and we have been trying to analyze our results ever since. So far we have had no success. For one thing the sign-up list for the Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS) is like the reservations book for a fancy restaurant in New York City. (I think. I've never actually tried to make reservations at a fancy restaurant in New York City.) We have managed to sneak our way onto the list twice and have had complications both times that have prevented us from obtaining useable results. But it's all part of the learning experience. At least that's what I tell myself. Hopefully we will be able to analyze all of our samples by the end of the week so that we can begin the next round of experiments. If for some reason our results are not satisfactory I will be forced to conclude that the science is flawed, not our experimental methods. Denial is much easier than another 48 hours spent adjusting pH in a tiny room.

Luckily we have found a way to keep ourselves busy while waiting for the AAS: Table Tennis. We discovered a Table Tennis room on the third floor (4th floor to us Americans) and we have been honing our skills over the past few days. Not to worry, it hasn't affected our work in the lab. If anything it has improved our hand-eye coordination, making us more effective laboratory scientists.

Bed and Breakfast in Cadier en Keer

We also discovered some hills in the Netherlands that weren't man-made. We had to travel 2.5 hours to Maastrict, near the borders of Belgium and Germany, to find them but it was well worth it. We rode our bikes through the small towns, up and down the hills and found a small bed and breakfast to stay for the night (after trying 9 other hotels which were all booked). We happened to show up in this small town on the night of a local festival. They explained the festival to us as a bunch of married men planting a tree to symbolize new life. This sounded like a great festival to me until I realized that they actually cut down a perfectly healthy tree and removed it roots and then planted it in cement. But it was a fun experience anyway.

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