Favorite Piece of Lab Equipment

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Six Fingers
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Favorite Piece of Lab Equipment

Postby Six Fingers » Thu Sep 03, 2009 7:29 am UTC

I have several I suppose...I really enjoyed working with the spectrophotometer for a Biology class a few terms back. I can't exactly remember what experiment we were doing, but we used it to measure how much light passed through vials of liquid. I thought that was pretty neat. I would like to get my hands on a gene gun, which allows you to shoot DNA into an organism ( yes they really do exist, and I thought it might be fun to do some experiments with plants).

What's your favorite tools/equipment to use?

-Six Fingers

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby masher » Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:46 am UTC

The diffractometer at the Australian Synchrotron.

It's just good!

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby qetzal » Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:59 am UTC

Some of my favorites:

Fluorescence stereomicroscope - pretty colored pictures!
Scanning spectrophotometer - must include a microvolume cuvette for analyzing really small samples (e.g. 20 microliters).
Mini-vertical polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) rigs, especially with precast gels - you young whippersnappers have no idea how much of a pain it used to be to pour and run PAGE gels.
Phosphorimagers - getting gel images that can be quantified is so much nicer than mere photos.
Computer with Excel - I tend to geek out on analyzing numerical data from my (or my colleagues') experiments. (Yes, I know it's mildly pathetic that I use Excel instead of a 'real' analytical software package, but it meets my needs and my analytical capabilities.)

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Charlie!
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Charlie! » Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

A tunneling electron microscope is pretty fun to play with. "Ooh, hey look, crystals! And over there, more crystals!"

Every time I get a spectrum in less than 5 minutes from when I decide to do it I remember how awesome FTIR is.

Oh, and a soldering iron. Although it doesn't like me back...
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby jmorgan3 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:37 am UTC

A 36-inch pipe wrench. Every time I use it, it makes my day.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Velifer » Fri Sep 04, 2009 2:07 pm UTC

Six Fingers wrote:I would like to get my hands on a gene gun, which allows you to shoot DNA into an organism ( yes they really do exist, and I thought it might be fun to do some experiments with plants).


It's just a cheap 12ga. shotgun. Pick one up at WalMart.

Gas sniffers are fun to play with--actually most field equipment is far more fun than lab equipment. If I have to stay inside, give me a good stereo microscope and some pond water.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby sgt york » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:45 pm UTC

1. Laser dissection scope. It's cool^2. You can take a slice of tissue, mount it on a slide and put it on the scope upside down. Take a picture of it and use a tool like the lasso tool in Photoshop to outline the part you want. When you're ready, it carves out the chunk with a laser on the actual slide and drops it into a tube for you. Great for getting, say, just the epithelial cells from a sample for RNA analysis.

2. Optical Coherence Tomography setup. It can see through live tissue, can see blood vessels, deposition of collagen, and even tell you the ratio of Hb-O2 to Hb in the blood it sees.

3. Anaerobic chamber. It's a glove box filled with a reducing atmosphere and nasty bacteria. Glove boxes are just cool.

4. Anything I built myself. Just because.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby medlii » Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:05 pm UTC

Polarized Optical Microscope. It's awesome because you get amazing pictures like the one below. Basically, you use it to look at crystals. The image is black if there are no crystals and shows pretty colors when there are crystals. The different colors and "edges" of the shapes show the boundaries of the crystals.

An awesome experiment you can do is take a piece of crystalline or semi-crystalline material, look at it, melt it slowly and watch the image turn to black, then cool it slowly and watch the crystals grow, very similar to what is shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmqFurIKVJI

Image

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby dedalus » Wed Sep 09, 2009 1:54 am UTC

Liquid N2. Because you can't get more awesome.
Failing that, lasers and mass spectrometers. Doing a research project later in the year that involves the two rigged up together; so we're using an ion trap and firing lasers into shit. Good times.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby dedalus » Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:17 pm UTC

It's not a proper lab without pieces of equipment that look like a glassblower had a coughing fit whilst sculpting his life's last project.
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Re: Favorite Piece of Lab Equipment

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:48 pm UTC

The Soxhlet extractor is a rather cool looking piece of glassware And a very useful one, too.
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But I have to agree that watching crystals growing in polarized light is a visual treat, especially if viewed through a stereo microscope.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby BSamuels » Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:30 pm UTC

the stopcock


my labmates and I refer to it as a cockblock
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Sungura » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:06 pm UTC

Any mini glassware. You know, 1 mL volumetric flasks, 1 mL beakers, 1 mL Erlenmeyers, etc.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:06 pm UTC

Sungura wrote:Any mini glassware. You know, 1 mL volumetric flasks, 1 mL beakers, 1 mL Erlenmeyers, etc.

They are so cute. Did your doll house have a lab, Sungura? :)

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:10 pm UTC

Gene guns are sort of outdated.

Electroporators are where it's at.

I'm a big fan of the nutator though, especially when you stack a few on top of one another. It's very mesmerizing.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Sungura » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:23 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:
Sungura wrote:Any mini glassware. You know, 1 mL volumetric flasks, 1 mL beakers, 1 mL Erlenmeyers, etc.

They are so cute. Did your doll house have a lab, Sungura? :)
Psh, doll house? never had one. Toys when growing up:
- little people (build houses and roads and cities and stuff)
- duplex (like big legos so little kids don't swallow them)
- hot wheels
- k'nex
- legos
- puzzles
- home science kits

/me is nerd

I have a friend who collects those mini items now. I would like to but my lab didn't want me to swipe theirs, which I thought was silly as we never used them.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby telcontar42 » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:54 pm UTC

My favorite is some equipment i used to deposit thin gold electrodes on a film. It has a vacuum chamber with a tungsten basket in it. You put a bit of gold in the basket and put the sample below it. A current is sent through the basket, heating the gold until it vaporizes and settles in a thin film coating the sample. You just can't beat vaporizing gold for science.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby crowey » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:08 pm UTC

Any fancy glassware. As well as the miniatures, I also like the oversized ones, like 5L conical flasks.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Sungura » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:43 pm UTC

I have already decided when I get married, the reception centerpieces are totally going to be different glassware with coloured water (do people still pick wedding colours?) to match our colours and have white carnations in them (that have been sitting in the coloured water for a couple days, obviously). Is that too nerdy?
Totally OT: I also used to do jewelry making, and designed years ago a band that at the top formed a heart and infinity sign interlocking...I never made it, but I think that would be an awesome wedding ring
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby semicharmed » Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:56 am UTC

That one pair of tweezers perfect for suturing. The pair that people wait for if surgeries are running simultaneously, because they are that damn awesome.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Carnildo » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:37 am UTC

Favorite? The 60-ton press. Yes, it's supposed to be used for generating stress-strain curves in high-strength materials, but it's also pretty damn good for squashing random things.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Charlie! » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:47 am UTC

Carnildo wrote:Favorite? The 60-ton press. Yes, it's supposed to be used for generating stress-strain curves in high-strength materials, but it's also pretty damn good for squashing random things.

Like super duper transparent KBr discs? :P
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby dedalus » Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:51 am UTC

Used the mass spectrometer for the first time properly on thursday. It kicks ass. There's something about vaporising particles and sending them hurtling down a tube past a precisely calibrated magnet that you just can't beat. And did I mention trapping them in ion beams and firing lasers at them?
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby thicknavyrain » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:07 pm UTC

I'm afraid I'm going to have to be old school and say the Bunsen Burner. Fire, lots of chemicals about, interested and irresponsible friends...yeah I don't see how things could go wrong. Seriously though, we've had a lot of fun with those.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby oxoiron » Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:29 pm UTC

Because I work with a lot of air-sensitive stuff, I'm going to say my favorite piece of lab equipment is a glovebox. It makes life so much easier than having to do everything with Schlenkware.

Also, the title of this thread inspired me to give a shout out to the spellchecker function, even though it's technically not a peice of lab equipment.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby mouseposture » Tue Sep 15, 2009 2:47 am UTC

Dissecting microscope.

Anything looks interesting under a dissecting microscope.

... oh, and jeweler's forceps, but not the really fine ones which have to be sent back for regrinding if you even look at them cross-eyed.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:15 am UTC

Dissecting microscope? Feh! Try confocal! Try TIRF! Dissecting scope! My awe inspiring science gizmomitron is better then your still pretty cool gizmomitron.

Thursday I use a FACS. It is the coolest piece of bio related equipment I've heard of.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Sungura » Tue Sep 15, 2009 12:30 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Dissecting microscope? Feh! Try confocal! Try TIRF! Dissecting scope! My awe inspiring science gizmomitron is better then your still pretty cool gizmomitron.
ApoTomes FT[microscope]W. Amazing quality and 3D view (you can do really nice z-stacks!) for neurons!
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby mouseposture » Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:24 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Dissecting microscope? Feh! Try confocal! Try TIRF! Dissecting scope! My awe inspiring science gizmomitron is better then your still pretty cool gizmomitron.


Whippersnapper. My gizmomitron was cool before cool was cool.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby semicharmed » Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:54 am UTC

We had a pretty awesome modded scope that we could track FITC-labeled blood vessel growth under. It may not be your fancy confocal or your TIRF, and I might not have used it (not for my particular subsection of project) but it was pretty damn cool.
And made a giant mess, especially when the plexi stage wasn't properly caulked.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby brazen » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:50 am UTC

It's so hard to just pick one...

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Machine: Giant supercooled 5Tesla magnets, probably the most evil genius looking thing I've played with.
Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter (FACS): who doesn't love a good dot plot?
Biological Safety Cabinet: Like a prison cell. Also like a prison cell, you grow to love it. I miss mine.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Ingolifs » Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:06 pm UTC

I like using the cold finger :)
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby You, sir, name? » Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:20 pm UTC

A table where I can do something useful (i.e. theory), while all you experimentalists do your silly experiments.
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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby brazen » Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:23 pm UTC

Empiricism is so overrated.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Bobbias » Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:58 pm UTC

I think my favourite "Lab" equipment so far is the Nachi robot in my robotics lab... There's something about a heavy metal arm capable of moving 15 kg at 2 m/s (locked out so it doesn't go that fast though :/) that is awesome. Maybe it's the fact that if anyone were ever hit by it moving at that speed, they'd be lucky if they survived with a couple broken bones....

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby sgt york » Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:08 pm UTC

semicharmed wrote:We had a pretty awesome modded scope that we could track FITC-labeled blood vessel growth under. It may not be your fancy confocal or your TIRF, and I might not have used it (not for my particular subsection of project) but it was pretty damn cool.
And made a giant mess, especially when the plexi stage wasn't properly caulked.


Hey...do you have any info on that or a few references? I'm always on the lookout for new ways to track angiogenesis, and that sounds very, very cool. And cool new tech = grants.

(edited to add)

Sungura wrote:I have already decided when I get married, the reception centerpieces are totally going to be different glassware with coloured water (do people still pick wedding colours?) to match our colours and have white carnations in them (that have been sitting in the coloured water for a couple days, obviously). Is that too nerdy?


"Too nerdy"? Is that some kind of a joke, like "I have too much data"?

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

So I didn't actually get to do this, a tech helped me, but still:

I take my cell suspension into this labyrinthine building, and find a dark room that is at least four hallways away from natural light. In this cave of a room, a lone dude is sitting at a laptop, listening to music and playing some kind of fast paced shooting game. He sees me, pulls his headphones out, and goes "You zach?" without looking up. "Yup. Got some cells to sort, is this the right place?" He replies "Yup. Gimmeeeee twoooooooo sec-" a flurry of keystrokes and he puts the laptop on the ground next to him, "Hi, I'm James. Got your control?"
I had him a tube of cells, which he puts into this giant pneumatic tube, which opens and closes with a hiss and a plume of pressurized air. I laugh a bit at this and he goes "Yeah, I know, very Space Odyssey 2001." He then turns to this bank of instruments with two old school oscilloscopes up top, and flips switches, turns dials, whacks something with a wrench, and finally the oscilloscopes stop flitting around madly. He turns to his monitor, and explains how the three graphs represent the size, the fluorescence, and some magical metric I didn't quite understand but apparently measures whether or not cells are aggregating, solitary, or dreaming. He draws regions around the areas of the graph that are most tightly clustered, saying he wants single cells of average size (for the sample of course), and that he will subtract away the autoflourescence that we see in the control (being non-expressing cells).
"And your sample?" he asks. Swapping the tubes, he once again flips some dials and turns some switches and BAM! slides back a panel and suddenly the room is filled with brilliant blue light. The laaaaaaaaaaaaaaseeeeeeeeeeeer. He clicks one of several answers some esoteric query the computer asks for (Evaporated Thaw Mongoloid Logic Gate Chocolate Sweep? Dilute, Contact, Uxorous, Obtain, Squelch, Telephone?) and the flourescence graph suddenly changes. The core signal from the non-expressing cells is still there, but drifting to the right (towards brighter intensity) is a medium density cloud of signal; cells expressing GFP, flourescing under laser light. He draws some new boxes, to take the top 25%, and the next 25% most intensely expressing cells, clicks some buttons and picks up his laptop, putting one earbud in, the music already back on.
"Shit'll be ready in an hour man. You can chill here if you want, wanna play StarCraft?"

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby zenger » Fri Sep 18, 2009 12:04 am UTC

My Honors chem teacher was so devoted to the subject she made her son's middle name Erlenmeyer.

One of my favorite lab set up/tool is the chromatography test. I just love the way it works and the end result, it's elegantly simple.

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby mr-mitch » Fri Sep 18, 2009 8:01 am UTC

This is probably a stupid question and has an obvious answer, but I just can't think of the reason (of); Why is it when you use a Bunsen burner (or for that matter, a BBQ, outdoor heater etc.), the whole gas line doesn't ignite/explode?

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Re: Favorite Peice of Lab Equipment

Postby Think » Fri Sep 18, 2009 8:18 am UTC

mr-mitch wrote:This is probably a stupid question and has an obvious answer, but I just can't think of the reason (of); Why is it when you use a Bunsen burner (or for that matter, a BBQ, outdoor heater etc.), the whole gas line doesn't ignite/explode?


I'm not completely sure, but I would think it would have to do with the lack of oxygen in the incoming gas stream. Methane, propane, butane, hydrogen, whatever, all require an oxygen source to combust. If there's no oxygen in the gas line then it will not ignite. The reason i'm not positive about this answer is because i'm not completely sure that all oxygen is removed from the gas that's piped through the line, but it would seem like it would have to be.


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