Sunday, 22 July 2007

SXR270 - day 2

Its day two on SXR270 - the day we get to do some real lab work.
It starts early. One of the discoveries at about 6am is how much a closing door echoes around the halls of residence. It appears we have an early riser in our block, so most of us awoke at around 6, and then tried to snooze in to a more reasonable hour.

After breakfast and a walk down to the QMC, we find our lab. Here Penny takes us through a pilot experiment that allows us to measure the oxygen update of a small piece of liver. This part is all about learning how to use the equipment, getting the procedure right, and learning how to interpret the results. The procedures are not too bad really - the data is all recorded on a computer which draws a graph of oxygen levels.

We basically leave it to respire for a while until it has used up all its glucose supply. Then we add some glucose solution which kicks off the respiration again. Then a bit later we give it a metabolic poison - potassium cyanide, which tends to stop it in its tracks.

That takes up the morning, together with some data analysis.

In the afternoon we start designing our own experiment. We chose to do rat skeletal muscle compared to rat skin. We figured the skin has very little metabolic activity and the muscle a fair bit. As it turned out the results weren't that different, although it was significant after running 5 replicates of each. Muscle really only uses oxygen quickly when its working, and this bit of muscle was just sitting around in a warm bath of buffer solution.

We spent a while interpreting our results and trying to work out if they were significant. We didn't have enough data for a t-test so we had to just compare things on a graph.

It looked ok, and we think we can make a convincing presentation of it in the 5 minute spot tomorrow.

After tea, we had more briefings and tutorials, which covered presenting the work tomorrow and what we shall be doing tomorrow in the experimental work in the morning. We get to meet a manduca hornworm catepillar and various bits of its guts.
We then proceed to see what its doing with potassium ions.

However that's another day, and tonight we have a quiz team to put together and win a quiz - or failing that at least not embarass ourselves too much!

Well what can I say? Our combined knowledge of cars seems to have been lacking, we didn't know who was the most popular children's author (no - we thought JK too - but its Beatrix Potter). It also took quite a while - we got there at 9:30, there were 30 questions and it didn't finish until nearly midnight. This is after we'd talked Cate into attending with the line "Well how long can it last?". Even Marks mobile phone tune I.D. gizmo didn't help. Still it was a good evening for getting to know people.

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