Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Knitting in peace

I worked over the weekend. I know. I know. I can barely bring myself to work a regular work-week as it is, what gives? I've been trying to schedule time on a particular microscope at Oak Ridge National Lab for a few months now, and they couldn't accommodate me for months unless I was willing to work over the weekend.

I like to bitch and moan, and this was prime B & M-ing material (not to be confused with BM material, which, ew), but truth be told I was pleased to get out of the apartment for a while and to be able to knit in peace. No waiting for Sammy to pass out at 10 PM so I can get a little bit of knit on without anyone trying to consume my yarn and/or knitted object.

Turns out, the instrument operator understood many things in addition to how to make kick ass samples, 1) Making samples using this particular technique is incredibly boring, 2) One should combat this boredom by multitasking, and most importantly 3) It's the freakin' weekend so multitasking can include knitting. I finished a respectable piece of Mystery Wedding Project (which technically is no longer a mystery, considering the wedding has occurred and I've also informed the couple what they can hope to receive at some point).

Usually when I knit for a long period of time with non-knitters, I get a few questions about the logistics, the materials, the point. No such luck in this case, and for the entirety of Saturday I never succeeded in even steering the conversation away from microscopes. Sunday, I managed to slip in some football and housing market chit-chat, so, baby steps I guess.

I didn't have a camera to document my awesome garter stitch, but the microscope we used to make the sample did have a camera....so, geeks read on (and non-geeks, electron microscope photos can be very pretty):

Bulk sample is cut from the surface by a beam of atoms

Bulk sample is 'glued' to a tip and lifted out

Bulk sample is 'glued' to a grid

The bulk sample is thinned with a beam of atoms to the final, ridiculously thin end product (the areas that look 'broken' are the sweetest thin area)

It's so thin that electrons can pass all the way through it...giving you and image kind of like an X-ray photo on a much much tinier area

I was also accused of being a little old lady by another instrument operator. Maybe so, dork-wad, maybe so.

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