i miss sunlight

Went on a tour of the state's central lab this weekend with a group of other undergrads. (*GASP!* Losing some anonymity! Not that anyone reads this anyway.) Half of it--the environmental testing section--was old news, since I'd worked there over the summer. The other half was the state police lab. Of course, this sounds much cooler to everyone. "Forensics! Like CSI!" (Of course, it's not CSI, but...)

A lot of the work is just toxicology, which sounded pretty cool until I realized they were just testing for drug metabolites. There's an arson unit, which sounds awesome until you notice that they're just GC/MSing for accelerants "because most people don't paint their houses with gasoline." Naturally there's a drug unit. If I had to be a slave to a GC/MS (which is not too far in the future, actually...), I'd at least want to shoot something interesting in there like cocaine. Probably the coolest part of the lab was the firearms section. There are all kinds of guns & ammo and even a firing range. While I'm not into shooting things...this was pretty awesome. Apparently most people come into the firearms unit with a chemistry background? Now THAT sounds like an interesting job.

One of the perks of working in the state lab facility is the building itself. It's pretty well designed and only a few years old. Apparently, in recent years they've gotten a bit smarter in lab architecture. Someone had the bright idea that scientists spend an awful lot of time in the lab, and hey, wouldn't it be nice if they could see a little sunlight every now and then? The perimeter of the building is glass from the ceiling to about three or four feet off the ground, and it lets enough light in that plants have no trouble growing pretty much anywhere. Having plants over the summer kept me from feeling like the cubicle was sucking out my soul. I wish I could have some plants in the lab at the university...but guess what? The chemistry building is significantly older than the nice new centralized state lab. Yup, built back in the dark ages, before they figured out that chemists don't really like living in caves. Plus, I'm in the (dungeon) basement, and I'm not sure anything could survive living in there anyway.

No comments: