My Path Through Research

The Trials and Triumphs of Doing a PhD

Photographic Necklaces and Aching Muscles

One of the problems I had to figure out before starting experiments was how to place 50 photographic samples in one 100mL glass vial without any of them touching each other or the glass. On top of that it was essential to be able to easily get them in and out of the vial for them to be analysed, and that means each sample needs to be easily identifiable.

I spent quite some time on and off thinking about this conundrum. Most of the methods I was thinking about were either not very practical for later identification and analysis. This was before I stumbled on the idea of sewing all the samples together onto one piece of string. A form of necklace of photographic samples. A good idea…but how to fit them into the glass vial without any of the samples touching?

The answer to this second part of the problem did not actually come from me in the end. One of my office colleagues walked over to see my efforts with constructing a supporting structure from stainless steel wire and very calmly suggested: why don’t you form it into a coil? Brilliant idea! My having a coil I can extend the stainless steel coil and easily wrap the string around it, before compressing it again to fit into the vial.

This happened quite a while ago. So why am I writing about it today?

I started preparing samples for the next set of experiments yesterday. This morning however I woke up with one of my upper abdomen muscles hurting. It’s not a muscle I ever knew existed and I couldn’t remember anything I did yesterday which could have conceivable resulted in this.

The puzzlement however only lasted till this morning, when I returned to the lab to finish the sample preparation. As  soon as I went to punch out the first sample for the first necklace, the muscle ached! It seems like every time I pressed down on the puncher I tighten this particular muscle. Doing it ten times might not hurt, but as I found doing it hundreds of times certainly does!

What have I learnt from this? Well, I either have to grin and bear it or spread the sample preparation over more days I guess!

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Filed under: Experiments and Methodology, Research Process, , , , , , , , , ,

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