Thursday, August 28, 2008

Let's make some stuff!

One of the things I really like about being a physiologist is that you get to make stuff, maybe something for your rig. So, you head down to the machine shop, and do your best impersonation of these guys:
Figure 1: Devastatingly handsome hosts of PBS' Router Workshop. Yes, that's correct, an entire show on the beauty you too can create with just a router and some weird ass bits. (Thanks to Isis, whose inclusion of figures I have totally ripped off - what's that saying about flattery?)

So, after agonizing over figures for what feels like countless hours, I was more than happy to help someone in the lab make a little extender thingy*, as a place to attach "sewer pipes*" for changing external solutions while patching. I don my trusty safety glasses (I love science and all, but I ain't losing a friggin eye for it), fire up the heavy artillery, and get covered in plexiglass dust! Good times indeed. The best part is, the result actually is better than my previous designs for extender thingies, and when compared to what someone else in the lab tried to deliver, it looks downright purty.

Figure 2: Nat's extender stands triumphant above a hideously maimed chunk of aluminum. Not that we're keeping score or anything.

Now, let's be clear here, I may be an anal retentive freak when it comes to figures and my recordings, but I am an utter mess when it comes to machining. I subscribe to the measure 6 times, cut 4, and still have the thing look like crap when you're done. All I care is that I make something that works, lasts long enough that I'm not continuously rebuilding it, and do it in a short amount of time. Remember, we're here to do physiology, not learn to be an expert machinist. Likewise with writing code and the like. Sure, it's gotta work and be maintainable, but it's a tool. Use it.).

* - Yes, we like to get technical here at junctionpotential.


PhysioProf said...

Yes, that's correct, an entire show on the beauty you too can create with just a router and some weird ass bits.

Hyphenation FAIL!

Nat Blair said...

In the immortal words of Nigel Tufnel, "That's just nitpicking isn't it?"

*Hmm, what about the Rule of Three? What else I got?*

From Wikipedia, which is the only source I trust: The use of the hyphen in compound nouns and verbs has, in general, been steadily declining. Compounds that might once have been hyphenated are increasingly left with spaces or are combined into one word. The sixth edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary removed the hyphens from 16,000 entries, such as fig-leaf (now fig leaf), pot-belly (now pot belly) and pigeon-hole (now pigeonhole).[1] In other countries hyphens are dropped in favor of connecting the two-word compounds. Use of the hyphen is particularly avoided by those concerned with visual cleanliness, for example writers of advertising copy, packaging labels etc.

*Ok, we're almost there, we just need one more thing. Let's go real highbrow and stuff. Ad hominem it is*

Well, I don't take no guff from a dude wearing flip flops and knickers, even if it is the great PP!

PhysioProf said...

Dude, if you want to rout weird ass bits, knock your fucking self out.

DSK Samways said...

The appropriate aesthetic of electrophysiology demands the haphazard assembly of arcane-looking bits of equipment. The more twisted, untidy and inscrutable the better. This is why Nanion's port-a-patch is an infernal blight on The Craft.

Appearance is important, and I agree that the use of goggles can enhance one's mad scientist appeal. When they send the wee school kiddies around to visit our department once a year, I like to don the welder's goggles and find some reason to readjust the alignment of my arc lamp for precisely that reason.

"See that light, kids? Don't look at it, whatever you do."

Isis the Scientist said...

I realize that I am a day late, but I am also totally flattered.

Nat Blair said...

@DSK - Arc lamps good, LASERS even better.

"See kids, the green light, it's a FRICKING LASER, and if I stuck it on a shark, I'D RULE THE WORLD!!!!!"

@Isis - Worry not, as you are engaged in a universe shattering duel to the death with PP!

The Disgruntled Chemist said...

Actual conversation between me and my grad school PI:

Me: Is this going to explode?
PI: I don't know. Wear safety goggles.

Nat Blair said...

@chemist - Welcome! And that story rules. I'm guessing no big explosions happened that day.

In lab I've done only a couple of real knucklehead things:

Blew a computer powersupply so that one of the chips inside it was destroyed, with pieces of silicon rattling around inside.

Then, I added some ammonium chloride solution to a solution with bleach in it.

Turns out chlorine gas is a lovely shade of green.