Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bunsen Burners

Heh, read this blog entry by microbiologist xx, and all I can say is ... I hear ya.
Whenever I leave the lab last, I am haunted by thoughts like: "Did I turn off my flame? Surely I did. Didn't I? What if it's on? What if I burn the lab down? or the building?" Once this starts there is no way of convincing myself that I did in fact, turn off my flame. So, I get in the car, drive to lab, and check the burner. It is always off. ALWAYS!
As a graduate student, I had that happen several times. Fortunately, I only lived about 4 miles away ... but the short distance didn't do much to alleviate the fact that I had to go back to the lab at 1 am because I just couldn't rest without knowing the absolute truth! I suggested that a webcam focused on the bunsen burner would be a good idea ... seems a bit overkill-ish, but hey ... whatever works right?

Where I work? We don't have bunsen burners. Can't have them. No gas line. Which sucks. Instead, we get to work with those ceramic core "bio-cinerator sterilizers", like this one. Stick a platinum loop in that puppy for 5 to 7 seconds and anything on it is dead. Then, you just need to worry about whether you turned the damn thing off, but if left on ... I don't think it's wreck flammable chaos like a bunsen burner could. We also rely on portable butane bunsen burners, which we refer to as "Danger in a Can". If those are left on ... if they don't give anyone a 3rd degree burn beforehand, they burn out rather rapidly. Not exactly the tradeoffs I gladly accept in place of no gas line at our facility, but it is what it is.


microbiologist xx said...

I am now seriously considering a live feed featuring my bunsen burner. :)
After all, it is better than midnight trips to the lab.

Tom said...

Sure is. And who knows, perhaps it'll become an internet sensation! :)