One of the most fascinating threads running through The Kitchen As Laboratory, a collection of essays edited by a trio of food scientists and published earlier this year, is the application of rigorous testing and measurement to a realm that has classically been very subjective. In the test pictured above, after egg yolks are poached at a constant temperature for a varying number of minutes, a rheometer is used to precisely measure the resulting texture, in pascal-seconds.
By Peter SmithPosted 06.13.2012 at 2:04 pm 0 Comments
Deep in the Illinois Institute of Technology is a Biosafety Level 3 certified containment unit: one of the only places in the country that intentionally infects spinach with live, potentially deadly E. coli pathogens. Lab workers don moon suits, step through an airlock, and then send 500 pounds of salad splashing down a flume with 5,000 gallons of contaminated water.
By Joseph A. BernsteinPosted 07.28.2011 at 10:07 am 19 Comments
Consider the autoclave, which scientists use to sterilize tools and which issues scalding steam to do so. Or consider the heat gun, which is used to dry glassware and to warm distillation devices. It can also ignite anything flammable that gets too close. Glass containers in a vacuum can implode, spraying shards everywhere. Centrifuge rotors can fail, causing explosions that throw shock waves throughout a lab filled with chemicals. Steel vessels built to contain liquids and gases at hundreds of pounds of pressure per square inch can rupture, hurling metal at lab workers.
By Paul Vaska, as told to Flora LichtmanPosted 07.05.2011 at 1:59 pm 1 Comment
I'm an instrument builder, mostly, and I work on positron-emission-tomography devices: PET. Doctors use them to look for cancer, but neuroscientists use them too. In studies with lab rats, they inject a mildly radioactive substance into the rat, and the PET scan measures the gamma rays the substance gives off. This tells researchers what part of the brain the substance is in and what parts are active.
Sure, you can buy a flying car from Hammacher Schlemmer. But for truly bizarre catalog collections, turn to America's laboratory supply companies. It's a fair bet your favorite holiday catalog will not include a small-animal guillotine, for instance.
Head Tilt Mouse
Ever since Mario Capecchi, Martin Evans, and Oliver Smithies created the first knockout mouse in 1989, genetically engineered animals have steadily increased in popularity for all kinds of biology research: simply pick a gene, turn it off in the mouse, and see what happens.
Scientists at Case Western Reserve University, Brown University, and several other collaborators are building an underground science lab where, in a 300-kilogram tank filled with liquid xenon, they hope to find dark matter -- the material that scientists believe was instrumental in helping to form the universe.