My Lab Mistakes

This is the milli-Q water purifier at my lab.
This is the Milli-Q water purifier at my lab.

There’s this water purifier at my lab. Tap water has too much salt and bacteria living in it to be useful for precise biological work. The only bacteria we want growing in our solutions are ones we put there!

There’s a separate water purifier for the whole building that produces de-ionized water. Deionized water removes a lot of the salt content (another word for salt is ions) and all of the bacteria, but its still got too much salt to be useful when we look at solutions for very specific colors. For example, DNA has this faint purple color that would not show up correctly on our faint purple color measuring machines if the salt got in the way.

So to get something even purer than deionized water we put it through an extreme purifier called a Milli-Q filter. Milli-Q is a brand name that means what it is now, like Dumpster or Kleenex. Dumpster is just the word for large trash receptacles now even though it originally meant a specific brand of trash receptacle. Similarly, Milli-Q water is called Milli-Q water even when it is made without a Milli-Q filter.

This IS a Milli-Q purifier, so the water we use is actually Milli-Q water. We have several gigantic jugs of Milli-Q water in my lab and they are all filled up from this machine a few times a week. It’s my job to fill them up. I’m supposed to put the jugs under the purifier, come back fifteen minutes later to turn the machine off, and then put the jugs back in their usual positions around the lab.

The only problem is I keep forgetting to come back to turn the damn machine off. I’ve left it on for over an hour a couple times now. The water spills over into the sink and its wasteful. I’ve only recently learned that I have to set a timer or I don’t go to turn off the water purifier. The other people in the lab have been making jokes at my expense. My favorite was about how I “have to drink whatever flows over.”

Just one of the sillier examples of how everyone continually learns new things no matter what their job is. My job is to fill water jugs sometimes and I learned I have to time how long it takes to do it correctly.

That’s all!

-Mister Ed

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