|Liam and Grace in the Stable Isotope Facility|
For me the week has been mind-blowing and so technical - working with mass spectrometers and vacuums! Scientific equipment that I have never even seen before, this made the week even more intriguing for me as I have been doing things that I have never ever dreamt of! To begin with myself and Liam (another student on work experience) kick-started the week with vacuum extractions of soil samples, whilst using liquid nitrogen! Wow! I felt like a real life scientist, working with intriguing gases and chemicals. On Tuesday I was given the job of micro-carbonate preparation. This entailed weighing micrograms (very very small amounts) of sample material and carefully putting the sample into tiny vials that were to be later put into the mass spectrometer where their isotopes would be measured.
On Wednesday I did carbonate preparation for isotope analysis in the morning, and in the afternoon we measured isotopes in water. The water samples came all the way from the Antarctic as ice cores from the ice cap!! It was interesting discussing with one of the geoscientists, Carol, about how ice cores from the Antarctic ice sheet are used in her research on climate change from 750,000 years ago to present. The water put into the mass spectrometer was measured for oxygen isotope ratios (18O/16O) and this data is converted into past temperatures. Carol has been able to show that Antarctic temperatures have changed over time and the western Antarctic is one of the fastest warming parts of the world. On Thursday Liam and I did some more carbonate extractions of carbon and oxygen isotopes where we had to prepare and extract the samples using a vacuum line and later used the mass spectrometer to find out the different carbon and oxygen values. Later that day we also went around all of the labs with Mel to help with a safety audit in order that she could keep a check on safety in the laboratories.
|Grace working on a vacuum line which extracts and |
collects gases for analysis
Grace Nicholls and her fellow student Liam Curtis are sixth form student at Rushcliffe School.