Week 3: Friday, already?!

The end of the third week is upon us already, and we already feel there is so much we need to do! It is safe to say by now, myself and Louise feel well integrated into the group and this is definitely down to their open approach to the whole programme. Crissy (http://www.ucd.ie/plantpalaeo/evans.html) sent us a cheery text to invite us to the lab this morning to witness the leaf staining for her vein density experiment as if it was for us all to meet up for a cup of tea and a catch up, and this lovely sense of “come on, yer one of us” is what makes this group of researchers so great to work with.

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By the time our leaf had been through the wars and in and out of several concentrations of alcohol, it looked suspiciously worn (some of you may even know the feeling!) and we left it for another day to examine the slide. 

Next on the agenda was a trip to PEAC to work with Amanda, following on from last week. Her aim this morning was to show us how exactly she collects air samples to send off for analysis (checking for different isotope levels) in the gas chambers.

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Essentially, what we were doing, in layman’s terms, was collecting bags of air! Yes, you read that correctly! With a pricey little pump, Amanda was able to extract the air carefully without mixing the chamber atmosphere with the external one. When I go home and tell them that I was working with scientists who were collecting bags of air and sending them away to be checked, I’ll be asked do I need to be checked and everything else I have done here will be immediately discredited! Sure enough, Amanda herself admitted that the first time she rang one of the labs to check about getting bags of air sampled, they put her on hold for quite some time. Sometimes you just have to believe there is a method to the madness!

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