4th – 15th January 2010

I’ve had a bit of a frustrating time when it comes to the practical side of my work over the last few months as I’ve been trying to decide how to carry out my experiments.  The idea is simple enough, a basic incubation setup would be to store seaweed in a glass jar for 24 hours then measure what it has emitted into the water and headspace.  The practicalities of this are obviously more complicated!   I need ways to get air and water samples out without them coming into contact with the outside air, I need the system to be gas-tight so that I don’t lose any of the compounds released by the seaweed (or add any extra compounds in) and I need the system to be made of materials that aren’t going to contaminate my results.  Rubber, for example, can release compounds that could interfere with my results.

There’s plenty of equipment out there that can deal with this, and plenty of examples of its use in journals.  The biggest issue I have is that due to the fact I’m studying seaweed I need a large enough opening to get my seaweed in.  And this is something that wasn’t so obviously available.  So I’ve spent quite a bit of time since I started trawling through catalogues and papers, including some great 1970s papers (sometimes we’re to busy looking forwards in science we forget the work people have done before us). 

Anyway, I’ve been busy this week putting in orders, applying for some money for equipment and planning some experiments…and it’s exciting getting started.  Money is a frustrating issue as my first year budget got taken up with various expenses and computing equipment but I’m trying to see it as all part of my learning curve.   Hopefully I’ll start some experiments next week and will be fully set up by the end of the month.

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