Jan 13, 2011

A snapshot of life, my life.

Allow me to describe you in detail a brief moment of my everyday life.

It’s 15.32 in the afternoon.

I’m right now at work doing some experiments; it’s part of my rutine. The room I’m at is painted in dark blue, it’s around 20 square meters, the temperature is 16.5 °C as I can see in a thermometer that’s lying on a table. That’s pretty damn cold; I don’t like it that cold! It makes me feel uncomfortable. The lights are switched off except for a small lamp that shines very weakly; that is because I’m working with a type of biological material that’s sensitive to light. To my left and immediately after the main door to the room, there’s a cylinder full of pure argon, the gas is compressed to 120 Bar, that’s like 120 times the atmospheric pressure. I need the argon to flush away the oxygen from the biological material since the combination of too much light and oxygen could kill it.

Next to the argon cylinder hanging on the wall, there’s a telephone and a board to place a variety of tools; there’s two hammers, some screw drivers, and other tools with names that I don’t really know neither in English nor Spanish. Against the same wall there’s a table full of stuff: bottles with different chemicals and solutions, plastic bottles, glass bottles, tiny bottles, big bottles (and the thermometer)… on that table I prepare all what I need for my experiments. Next to the table you find me; here I am, hello! Actually I’m standing up, I’m holding a big notebook (the lab book); on it there’s a scientific paper and I’m writing on the last page with a red ink pen. I just reached the end of that page…

[It just came to my mind the realization that it’s been a long time since I wrote by hand something lengthy, something else than an address, an email, or a phone number. I’m also thinking that it’s going to be pretty tedious to type all this into the digital world.]

I’m wearing Converse—like usual—and they look pretty dirty, it’s been raining quite a bit; blue jeans, Levi’s 504 straight, I bought them online; a Tommy Hilfiger polo shirt with gray and white horizontal stripes, slim fit; a Tommy Hilfiger white jumper and on top of that my white lab coat. I have not shaved in a week and I didn’t comb my hair, but it’s very short so it doesn’t really matter. Now, I’m actually sitting down. In front of me placed on a little table, there’s a laptop, HP; a really nice and big one since it was bought very recently…

[I wouldn’t mind trading it for my three years old laptop.]

Below the laptop you find an instrument called, a potentiostat: a pretty unimpressive box. This box is used to generate electric potentials and do some other stuff related to electricity. I use the laptop to control the potentiostat. To my right there’s a huge table that occupies most of the space in the room; on the table there’s a powerful lamp that I’m using to shine very focused and very strong light into my biological material. There’s also a small container where I put the biological material… and through many cables it’s connected to the potentiostat. In the same table there’s also a laser that you can use to shine laser light of every different wavelength, but it’s switched off right now. There’s also another machine called an infrared spectrometer: it’s called like that because it can use infrared light to tell the structure of molecules… when it does, it draws a picture, some lines going up and down; the picture is called a spectrum… and it’s a meter because it measures… so it measures spectra using infrared light. I’m not using that machine either; I’m only playing with the potentiostat.

What I’m doing—besides writing this—is to use the potentiostat to test the electrical and chemical properties of my biological material when I’m illuminating it with the strong light. Why electrical? Because the biological material I’m studying moves electrons from one place to another. Why chemical? Because the biological material is a huge molecule with lots of other molecules within it. Why when I shine light? Because the biological material only moves the electrons when it absorbs light. So I click the mouse of the laptop to start an experiment… wait two minutes in the dark, then I turn on the lamp… wait two minutes, then I turn off the lamp… wait two minutes, then stop the experiment… save file…click to start experiment… two minutes, light on, two minutes, light off, two minutes, stop, save, start, and so on and on and on and on and on and on.

So actually just sitting here with these two minutes intervals just looking at the laptop screen… it can get pretty boring: and it’s freaking cold! Wait…

[Stop experiment, save file, toilet visit, change sample of biological material, change conditions of the experiment, check all the cables are well plugged, check argon is bubbling; all is good, click to start experiment.]

So I was thinking that it could be a great idea to write a blog entry about an accurate moment of my life during these iterative two minutes intervals.

Alright, it’s now exactly 16.41 and I must stop writing here because I’m getting too distracted.

Good bye, have a nice day, you can send me the Nobel Prize by mail and put the money on my bank account, merci, au revoir!

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