Wednesday 14 February 2007

Dear Sir,

Find below a sample of a hilarious sitcom I have written about a slightly incompetent MPhys student working on his project. It is sort of like a condensed matter physics version of Fawlty Towers.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Steele.

Int. Location #1—Day, 16:30

Statto is attempting to deposit carbon nanotubes on some indium phosphide…

Statto: Just a couple of drops…

Statto carefully squeezes a couple of drops of nanotube solution onto a small silvery wafer of indium phosphide.

Statto: And now it just needs popping in the dessicator.

He walks over to the ‘dessicator’, placing the sample gently inside the glass bowl and then lifting a second, upturned glass bowl with a tap in it onto the top. The rims of both bowls are covered in vacuum grease, a substance quite like Vaseline, so that when the air is pumped out it cannot seep back in. He attaches a vacuum pump and depressurises the interior of the contraption. He peers through the glass as the water evaporates extremely slowly.

Statto: Wow. This is almost literally like watching paint dry!

Caption: “Five minutes later…”

Statto twists the tap on the dessicator…unfortunately slightly too fast, and the sample is blown off its tray by the force of air rushing back in. It falls into the dessicant granules at the bottom of the bowl.

Statto: Dammit!

Statto grabs a nearby pair of comically-oversized plastic tweezers and starts trying to pick up the indium phosphide. After several failed attempts, he grabs it in the plastic jaws and brings it tentatively out of the bowl. Just as it passes the rim, the brittle indium phosphide snaps in two! One piece falls onto the vacuum grease. Statto pulls a face. The other bounces around momentarily under the fume hood, eventually settling on the surface.

Statto: Phew! It landed nanotube side up!

With only one of the originally deposited drops remaining, the other covered in Vaseliney goo, Statto carefully picks it up with the plastic tweezers.

Statto: (examining the wafer) Hmm. I think there are too many nanotubes on here. I need to give it a rinse.

Statto grabs a bottle of distilled water and squeezes it carefully. A dribble of water squirts gently out onto the wafer. As it falls off, we see that the wafer is totally clean.

Statto: Dammit!! I’ve washed them all off! Ah, well, I’ll just dry it out and then look at it under the microscope and perhaps there will be a few still stuck to the surface.

He grabs a small can of compressed air and presses the top gently. A gust of compressed air blows the sample from the tweezers and it lands on the desk, smashing into a bazillion pieces. Statto breaks down in tears, which wash any remaining nanotubes off the tiny fragments of indium phosphide.

Roll titles.

The other thing I learnt today was that it’s a bad idea to make Ribena with deionised water. It “tastes like shit”, apparently. So now you know.

Being a physicist is great.

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