Graham Shepherd wrote:
> Last time I worked in hospital lab they were still in common use - this was
> a medical school/hospital lab that made most of its media from powder -
> nutrient broth, tryptone soya broth, sugars, urea broth - all in tubes,
> mostly with cotton wool (including some pretty coloured ones). That was 15
> years ago in the UK. I can't imagine that it's changed that much - there
> isn't the money for all this robotic stuff (cf the salaries thread).
I think it went out of use in Holland at least 25 years ago. The selfmade cotton
plugs (mind you, there was a machine to do the plugging, but men could do it
faster and better) were first replaced by a kind of pressed paper cork-like
stopper, abslutely useless, they kept falling of. Then we had metal caps, and
when disposable tubes were intriduced the plastic caps came.
> I read
> somewhere that it used to be a recommended technique to flame the mouth of
> the tube with the bung still in, which must have led to lots of little
> fires...it would have been a pretty old book....
Yes - most people take the tube in the left hand, pick up the plug with the
right hand, bring the left hand to the flame - show this to the new tech , tell
him, her, to do it the same way, and then she, he turns out to be left-handed
and clumsy like hell ..... fire
> Another example - doing ZN stains - our lab used a torch made of cotton wool
> with a twisted wire handle, dipped in methanol. Once you finished heating
> the slides, you extinguish the torch and put it in the rubbish bin. Only we
> didn't have bins, we had paper bags that fit into metal frames that slide
> out from under the bench. And if your torch isn't quite out when it goes in
> the bag....
We have metal bins - but using a cold stain none the less
Pilot flames of bunsenburners. poor alcohol over the table, spread with paer,
knock the burner over .. whooooosh again.
Now we have burners with a spark element, triggered by a foot-pedal - now people
forget to close the gas taps before leaving. Forget about the old rubber rotting
> Two of the things I retain from my years in the lab - fireproof fingers and
> the deep understanding that hot glassware looks EXACTLY like cold glassware.
It confirms my conviction that one has to be utterly insane to work in