elb's hovel of thoughts

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Flooding the Laboratory

Part of the requirements of a Masters encompasses a research project in the final semester (starting July of the next calendar year of enrolment), of which preliminary work is expected to start during November of the year of enrolment.

So there I was, sitting down with my friend and PhD supervisor, Ram. He got me started with a lab book (It was free! I didn't have to pay for it unlike last year!) and my own personal spanking new lab coat. Both of which I should label. In addition, I have my own desk and my own lockable drawer and computer with a kitchen area. All in a room which I share with two other MSc students.

One of the things that need to be done when repeating a series of experiments is to recycle stuff whenever possible. Which means cleaning of containers, lids, et cetera.
Which he does, by cleaning the contaminated glass test containers with 98% pure sulphuric acid (this would literally dissolve and eat your bare flesh, ladies and gents) followed by soaking in soap for a while.

The first round, we left the stuff to soak while we went to get my labcoat. This sink happens to be in a temperature controlled, sealed off room with rubber gasket like thingies at the edges which is accessible from our lab.

We came back to find the sink empty. This time I gave the stopper a little push with my finger, and Ram turned the water on again. We then went to fiddle around with some cool gear like centrifuges and stuff for a bit, then went back to the lab.

Then lo and behold, another PhD student opened the door to that room, and water literally flowed out of the room, flooding most of the lab with water. Okay well, it wasn't that bad, at the most maybe half a centimetre. But the floor was slippery and my new labcoat got drenched. Anyway, we had to spend the next half an hour scooping up the water using a broom and a dustpan (we couldn't find a mop). And hoping no one else came in and discovered what had happened :P

That was some experience! As Ram said later: We are men, we cannot multitask like women...

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