Thursday, July 16, 2009

Duckweed Destruction

Author: Robert Bair

Sorry dear fans for the absence of news. These last few weeks are going to be hectic as we try to wrap up research and “extracurricular” traveling. Ever since I found more duckweed I’ve been trying to catch up for the lost time. Two weeks ago I was trying to run two full experiments in one week. After putting in some extreme hours I realized that it was impossible to run the two at once. There is simply too much to do! Digesting the plants is what takes up most of my time. I have to wait until they are dry, then mill them, digest them, dilute them and test them. It doesn’t sound like much, but trust me it takes forever! You also have to remember that everything I do is in multiplies of 25

My desorption results are looking good for both lead and zinc. They follow the patterns that we predicted, but the mass balance is still not working out. For lead we are still missing an average of around 30%. Acid rinsing the glassware helped, but not much….

Due to the workload I found myself in the lab one Saturday, it was then that I decided that I needed a break. Right after doing what I needed to in the lab I packed my stuff and started biking. My original destination was Antwerp in Belgium. It was around 60 miles away from delft in one direction. I found the directions online and wrote out my path on a post-it note. I had a map of Belgium, so as long as I was able to get out of the Netherlands I would be ok.. .. so I thought.

About 30 minutes into the trip I got amazingly lost. Nothing on my post-it note made any sense! I pulled out my map of Belgium and tried to look as confused as possible. Luckily the ploy worked and someone came up to me and asked if they could help. When the good Samaritan looked at my map they chuckled just a little. I was at least 40 miles away from where the map even began! After talking for a while they invited me to their house and gave me a map of the Netherlands and a few refreshments for the road! What hospitality!

One bike accident and six hours later, I found myself a nice spot in some bushes and pitched my tent. I never made it to Antwerp. I got lost too often to make it all the way. I did however make it to Essen, Belgium. It is one of the few “Fairtrade” certified cities. Even without reaching my goal I was quite satisfied by what I had accomplished. The following day I made my way back Delft. In all I traveled over 110 miles by bike. Quite a feat considering that my back tire still rubs up against the frame.

Until the next update, Bonjour!

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