Our provincial little liberal arts school is going places with the unveiling of a fancy new spectrometry lab. The Stable-isotope and Paleoclimate Analysis facility (called the SPA for short, FITTING RIGHT?) was purchased and assembled last summer. Apparently, it operates by measuring the isotopes of certain elements, which can reveal “metabolic changes one meal ago or environmental conditions a million years ago.” YEAH SCIENCE.
According to Skidmore Propaganda:
“Funded by a three-year, $830,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, the lab is run by Amy Frappier, current holder of Skidmore’s Lubin Professorship for Women in Science. Joining her in the grant is colleague Kyle Nichols. Her husband and fellow academic, Brian Frappier, is the lab manager and technical guru. And it’s plenty technical—the room is a dense, intricate network of spigots and pipes, hair-thin capillaries, computers, a combustion chamber, a 700-pound magnet, tiny solid-gold sensors, electrical relays, vents, a dentist’s drill… Much of the peripheral equipment is for transforming a solid or liquid into a gas that can be analyzed at the core of the lab: a very sensitive and accurate stable-isotope ratio mass spectrometer.”
I don’t know what any of that means, but it sounds really cool. Unfortunately, I’ve got to get back to reading poems and books about shit that happened 200 years ago.