working in the lab
Grand Forks Travel Blog› entry 12 of 16 › view all entries
I've finished my physical experiments and now it is time to test my water samples in the lab. UND has an environmental lab where I can prepare and run all my samples myself (maybe not such a good thing). I can usually get one test done a day, or rather, one batch of one test. I test the cations (Ca, Na, Fe) on the Flame AA (atomic absorption) and the anions on the Ion Chromatograph (Cl). I must say I like the Flame AA the best. I get mesmerized watching the flame. Since I have such high concentrations of solutes, the flame glows very brightly when a sample is tested. Sometimes I think I zone out watching the flame. I read somewhere that people like to stare at three things: flowing water, a campfire and something else.
I also tested for total dissolved solids by placing my water samples in beakers and then heating them in an oven until the water evaporated. I knew there were a lot of salts, but I wasn't prepared for the crystals that formed! I had some amazing salt crystals form and some rather interesting salt formations (small scale of course). When I took them out of the oven they were cracking and popping, very musical.
After I finish analyzing my samples I get to analyze the data and see if any of it makes sense. And then I get the fun task of writing my thesis. I hope to have most of it written by this summer and have it defended by December! The pictures are various ones of me working in the lab.