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Lab Enviroment

  1. Aug 31, 2006 #1
    I often wonder, what's it like working in a lab? Is it cold and boring like TV tells you. Is it exciting, or is it just like any other job.

    WHen I picture a lab I picture a place with tables, people in coats with goggles and gloves on. n a computers Several rooms with several people carrying through several experiments. Maybe a main room where people meetin, the head of the lab's office, and of course a restroom or snackbar.

    The look of labs vary. I could be a small one for an organazation, amid sized one for a university ,or a large one for a government. Most of the good labs in The United States seem to be at universitties. Rather the ones with groundbreaking research I should say.

    I wonder about particle accelerators. DO most universitites have them or a select few ones. I suppose they're like any other complex, the main room(s0 where the contenet goes on, the offices, hallways, lockers,restrooms, cafeterias,meeting rooms, and of course parking spaces. I often wonder about the ones where hazardous chemicals are experimented with and live animals. Must be diffcult, and then there's humans. Nowadays US labs are diverse. They don't show ladies in the movies. Would love working at one, as long as the dress code's cool and the bosses aren't on you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 31, 2006 #2
    so far I have worked in two university research labs..

    1. Experiemental condensed matter physics lab
    There's an office where ppl have their desks, books, computers, papers and printers around. This place was pretty much what you'd expect to see in any kind of "office", just like in companies. There was no dress code.
    Then there were the "labs", where actual experiments are conducted. Usually full of electric lines, plumbing pipes and vacuum hoses all around, with huge optical benchs or deposition chamber equipements and such. Lots of tool boxes and electronic gadgets.

    2. Experimental biological physics lab
    This place looks pretty much like a standard biology lab, by which I mean there are lab benchs and personal desks in the same room. Lots of reagents and stuff in the fridges and shelvs. There is a room where they shake the cells, and a room where they freeze the cells. Some rooms have optical microscopy equipments in them. No dress code in general, but probably want to wear shoes that cover your toes for your own safty (same applies to the first lab). No goggles or lab coats in my lab, although I've seen ppl wear those in other labs in the same building. From what I've seen, the more you go towards the physics end (as opposed to the bio end), the less ppl care about how they dress or protect themselves :)

    I think the atmosphere of the lab depends a lot on the particular PIs. It can be really really messy, or it can be pretty neat and clean.

    well, I guess what I'm trying to convey is that what you see in the movies is not a very good representation of a typical physics academic lab (or even national laboratories). I think actual labs are much more humane and informal. I dunno what corporate labs look like. I also don't know much about chemistry or engineering labs.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2006
  4. Aug 31, 2006 #3
    Labs are exciting

    A lab where real research is being done is an exciting place. It is not cold and certainly not boring. It is the spear point. It is where the real work gets done. I would rather be holed up in the lab than in any sterile office or meeting room.
  5. Aug 31, 2006 #4
    Lab benches what are those? The big long black tables like they have in high schools?
  6. Sep 1, 2006 #5


    User Avatar

    Lab time:

    Drink some coffee.

    Set experiment up.

    Drink some coffee.

    while frustration < critical

    ...Run experiment.

    ...Drink some coffee.

    ...Stop experiment.

    ...Drink some coffee.

    ...Find out what's wrong with experiment.

    ...Drink some coffee.


    Give up.

    Take results back to regular office.

    Analyse until you've convinced yourself there is a result.

    Finally, go back to the comfort of numerical investigation :smile:

    Drink some coffee :biggrin:
  7. Sep 1, 2006 #6
    I tried googling "lab bench"

    The first picture seems like a good enough representation of a biology lab bench :)

    http://www.swmed.edu/stars/02antarcticexpedition/update%20images/Lab%20Bench.jpg [Broken]

    Notice there is a office desk near the window. I think this kind of arrangement is rare in physics labs, probably because physics experiments are more like a shop work (you make your own apparatus) compared to biology where most work is done with micro-scale apparatus (commercially available) and samples.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  8. Sep 1, 2006 #7


    User Avatar

    Early aerospace lab

    http://img68.imageshack.us/img68/285/wrightbrotherslab284x212dm4.jpg [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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