12 August, 2001
New discoveries in the final hours lead to delays in packing!
It's hard to believe that we have been working non - stop now for a whole month! The season is quickly winding down now, as we pack and prepare to leave on Tuesday. Every piece of equipment has to be accounted for, cleaned and carefully packed into the crates to ship home. For Markus, this trip to Summit was partially a preparation event for his next trip to Antarctica. He will be running many of the same experiments there that he did here so we will pack everything with that in mind. But, before we can pack his instruments, Markus must first run another day of tests for he has discovered a new reagent for his instrument !!
Unlike the others who were packed by noon today, Markus was still in full activity. Having now spent a month working with Markus it doesn't surprise me in the least that he is still testing out new ideas. I have heard he has been known to be packing in the lab in Tucson less than an hour before a flight to New Zealand! But this time the new reagent that was an accidental discovery yesterday has given Markus the excuse to be the last to be ready.
Two days ago, I mixed the reagent that we use for the peroxide analysis as I have 5 other times this summer, carefully combining the powders and bases into the 4 liter container and leaving it to stir for 12 hours. Yesterday, as we ran the shading experiment Markus noticed he wasn't seeing the usual reactions. Around 3 pm we began to trouble shoot... "could it be the reagent I made?" I asked. We went back through the steps together with Manuel. We analyzed each step of the mixing process. When we discussed the storage of one small (0.028 gram) part of the mixture I told him and Manuel I thought that it might have gotten above freezing because of how it was stored. Manuel suggested that we add more of this piece of the mixture to the reagent and try it in his instrument in the greenhouse to see if it made a difference. Manuel and I mixed the new reagent and hooked it up to his sensor. While we were doing this in the greenhouse Markus had already left with a packet of his own. While we mixed 0.028 grams of the enzyme to 3 liters of solution Markus added 0.014 grams to his 200 ml reagent in his instrument in the science trench. Immediately the sensor responded with the best results he had seen all season. A little later, as I wandered back out to the trench feeling down about the lost data from the day, I found Markus thoroughly excited by this new discovery.
Never a dull moment here Summit.
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