When the Professors are Away….

Last week, both of our advisors were on vacation, so we were left to our own devices. We were excited to be independent researchers (even though our professors were only a phone call away) and see how well we could function. Naturally, 30 seconds after one professor left we had to chase him down at the Sunken Gardens because we forgot to ask something. We were left with three main tasks: start collecting a new set of data, continue stripping the resin from the previous data, and keep the liquid nitrogen in the gamma lab full.

Collecting the data is really the easy part. We just need 6 days without rain, and a few hours in the woods. Analyzing data is what takes months. We have dripped about a liter of acid through resin from Chisel Run in June, and we still have more to go (We have to run the results through the Ion Chromatometer after every ~100ml). After this, we’ll need to evaporate the collected acid and run it in the gamma lab. The gamma counter needs to be constantly frozen, hence the liquid nitrogen. Every 3 days we refill the nitrogen keeping the counter frozen, and about once a week we cart the dewar over to the ISC to refill it.

Overall, we completed our tasks. Some data was lost during the collection, but nothing catastrophic. We’re almost done running acid through this resin from June, so that we can start running acid through our new resin. And no one got frostbite or took a long nap while filling the nitrogen. I’d call it a success.

The professors are back, but nothing is back to normal. Applied Sciences is (hopefully) moving to the ISC 3 today. This means that we can start moving to the third floor of McGlothlin, and the gamma lab can begin moving to the ISC. Moving the lab means shutting down all of our machines, hauling a couple thousand pounds of lead bricks from the gamma lab, and overall a lost week of research. However, we should get a much larger and more usable lab.