Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A pattern is emerging

Once again lunch trumped dinner. We were a bit late getting to lunch and there were slim pickings. However, I had a more than acceptable Thai green curry based soup with lightly boiled vegetables in it. With some chilli seeds and coriander sprinkled on the top this was actually quite tasty.
Thai green curry soup for lunch - actually quite tasty
Unlike yesterday, dinner made a valiant effort to live up to the standard set for lunch. The lamb hotpot was OK but the beans were rather 1970s - I think they'd been boiled for several hours too many. They were watery, tasteless and floppy. Never mind, the chocolate tart for pudding almost made up for them.
Acceptable lamb hotpot with floppy beans
On the research front (it's not all gastronomic adventures) we have produced some more maps. These were completed last night. The one below shows the intensity of wave numbers around 850 cm-1 on the left (calcium carbonate) and around 710 cm-1 on the right (calcite) so the green bits on the right hand image may (but only may) be amorphous calcium carbonate since there is a lower intensity in the calcite peak. We've also produced another higher resolution image (like the one in yesteday's post). Both of these maps took c. 6 hours machine time to produce.

Images of earthworm balls or are they images through someones brain?
Today there has been no beam (always planned like this, not a problem with the beam) so we played a little with the FTIR microscope and a detector called a focal plane array (FPA). I still don't quite understand what this is but it turned out that it wasn't great for my calcite balls (it doesn't get down to low enough wave numbers) so Liane and Steffi did some work on their snow algae. We've now switched to a different detector and are producing some more large scale granule maps like the above to allow us to focus on a couple of areas for detailed synchrotron maps tomorrow.

Beatriz, another of Liane's seemingly infinite number of PhD students, is arriving tomorrow with some chemicals to allow us to make some synthetic calcite and amorphous calcium carbonate. We'll analyse that as well and use the FTIR spectra to confirm the interpretation of the images we've got so far. This should hopefully ease our (healthy scientific) scepticism that we've finally located the amorphous calcium carbonate that we've been chasing for the last two years.

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