• Question: What is your favourtie piece of equipment to use when you are at work and why?

    Asked by elmo97 to AndrewL, Andrew, Emma, Marianne, Paula on 23 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Andrew Maynard

      Andrew Maynard answered on 18 Jun 2010:


      Hi elmo97,

      The big one is a Transmission Electron Microscope – although I’ve probably lost the knack of using the fancy ones these days. These let you look at stuff all the way down to the atoms and molecules that it’s made of – very cool indeed.

      But my other favourite piece of equipment is a crisp sheet of paper and a good, sharp pencil – perfect for exploring new ideas on 🙂

    • Photo: Paula Gilfillan

      Paula Gilfillan answered on 18 Jun 2010:


      Hi elmo97. I have never worked in a laboratory…some scientists don’t but in my first job for the Royal Navy, I used to assess people’s exposure to nasty substances in their job, including noise too (although not strictly a substance but a physical hazard).

      The most oddest piece of equipment I used to use was sound level meter which measured how much noise people were exposed to. It was rather bulky but it was always a conversation starter when people saw me with it so I got to talk to lots of men! (I was a young single lady at the time, I might add):)

    • Photo: Andrew Leitch

      Andrew Leitch answered on 18 Jun 2010:


      elmo are you actually a computer virus that generates questions (well done!)?

      I like the door on the way out as it means I’m going home….!

      No, just kidding, I like the fancy laser-based microscope called the confocal microscope. It lets you shoot lasers at live cells to light up fluorescent probes/dyes/antibodies that you’ve treated the cells with. It makes amazing pictures.

    • Photo: Marianne Baker

      Marianne Baker answered on 22 Jun 2010:


      Hey elmo.

      Centrifuges are always fun.
      We use them to separate out elements of samples by their weight; the heaviest bits go to the bottom and it depends how fast/how long you spin them as to what kind of separation you get. We mostly use it to spin cells down to the bottom of the tube, or DNA when we’re purifying it.

      They’re really quite dangerous; if you don’t balance them right (put an equal amount of weight distributed across the available space) then as they spin faster and faster, the whole rotor (bit that spins and holds your samples) can spin out of the side of the machine and through walls!

      A mischievous part of me wants to see it happen. But they’re very expensive, and if that did happen, it would be very unfortunate indeed if someone were in the way.

      Other than that, our microscopes are great. I like looking at things we’ve made fluorescent red/green/blue etc. – molecular biology can really be beautiful 🙂

    • Photo: Emma Pilgrim

      Emma Pilgrim answered on 23 Jun 2010:


      My hand lens so I can identify plants. It is my favourite piece of equipment as it is something I enjoy doing!

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