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comment by thundara
thundara  ·  1832 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: February 18, 2015

I mentioned the other day that I've been making microcolumns.

They're tiny hollow cylinders (1/10th of a milimeter in diameter) filled with even smaller beads and are used in protein purification right before one injects those proteins into a mass spectrometer for analysis. Columns has been used in biology since before I was born, so normally this would be a trivial topic, but this lab is pretty particular about their sepcs, so I have the fun of cutting, filling, and washing these things myself.

Still in trivial territory, but because making them is a somewhat stochastic process with an almost infinite number of ways to fuck it up, I like to multiplex the task. So I've been fencing off the area around three helium tanks and running back and forth between the bombs (smaller tanks that the columns are attached to), switching out buffers and beads, trying to get something that isn't snapped or blocked somewhere along the line.

Unfortunately, these tanks have a very specific order of operations when moving the compressed air around. There are 5 valves that need to be closed or opened before I can remove the column or buffer from the bomb. When done correctly, you hear a small woosh and nothing flies in your face.

When done incorrectly I either hear a loud bang, the column turns into a gusher, or the column shoots out at a high velocity. If chance has it that it collides with the ceiling at the right angle, I get what appears to be a game of darts.