Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Of Hoods and Drops

We added two new pieces of equipment to the lab today.

This is the bigger of the two. It's a biological hood.

That's a device we use to work with biological material without contaminating it with bacteria, viruses, or even those nasty ole yeast spores that are floating amongst us.

It works by blowing air through very fine filters onto our working area. This "sterile" air then displaces regular air and keeps our samples from being contaminated. Since you never turn off the air flow, everything stays uncontaminated. In theory. And it usually works.

It's truly amazing how much time I spend in a hood and up to now I've been doing it in a core facility. That means that I have to sign up for the hood and carry all my stuff back and forth. It doesn't sound like much of a burden but it does mean that impromptu needs can't be met since you need to sign up ahead of time---and needing to pipet samples sterilely comes up a lot. It's going to be great to be able to jump into the hood anytime I need to.

This device, on the other hand, is pretty small.

It's a Nanodrop machine from Thermo Scientific.

A Nanodrop is a small compact spectrophotometer. These devices are used to measure what wavelength of light is absorbed by a substance. We use this information to derive concentrations of proteins, DNA, RNA, et cetera by running standard curves and comparing the values of our samples against the curve.

This explanation, for some odd reason, reminds me of that 1980's music video for Thomas Dolby's song "She Blinded me with Science". That guy is 53 now. Amazing. I wonder where Miss Sakamoto is now.


tiff said...

Science is awesome. I can't believe what's gone on technologically since I left the labs. Amazing. (The hood remains the same, though)

utenzi said...

Most of what I do is old school so we don't need anything fancy. While our research is based on the results of some DNA Microarrays we did a few years back, most of what we're doing now is tissue culture, mice work, and Westerns and IHC to confirm.