In Which We Discuss Work

Yes I am a boring person.

My job on the other hand… now that’s cool.

At the precise moment, I’m working with lithium borate fusion beads, which means basically I’m taking tiny bits of my samples, mixing them with lithium borate granules, heating the whole darn thing up to slightly over a thousand centigrade (about 1900 F) and pouring it into a mold.  Eventually I’ll be analyzing these, but that’s not the interesting part for a blog.

Here’s a thing: in engineering labs earlier this year, I was melting different compositions of metal alloy – boring story, never mind that – but the alloy I was working with developed the most beautiful shot-purple oxide layer on top, that tore if you touched it (with a probe, with a probe, I’m not a moron) and showed the mirror-shiny molten metal underneath. And it was fantastic.  And it cooled into swirly purple layers on top.  And I made the grave mistake of pointing out how pretty it was, and… yeah, apparently that’s not a very engineering thing to do.  Weird looks, crossings-out in my lab report with ‘this is unnecessary’.

But I’m a chemist!  So if I think something’s absolutely beautiful, I am allowed, and because in most cases it is a legitimate observation, encouraged to say so.  So I can have lines in my lab reports like ‘the oil formed was a rather gorgeous deep topaz orange, and perfectly clear’ and ‘large, rather charming, flaky crystals with a translucent appearance’ and the most comment I’ll get is a little smiley face (from the awepic lecturer who marks ‘three benzene rings for the elven kings under the sky’ with a large red G rune) or a question mark from the uptight one.  Nobody cares. And I find this sort of thing is legitimate, published, journal articles as well.  So stuff the materials engineers, the world’s beautiful and I’m lucky to get to see parts of it most people don’t.

I just wanted to show y’all what I was working on today: these are some of my favorite sample beads from today’s run.

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And this is a photo taken through one of the beads, compared to one taken just plain: Photo filter.png

And this is the absolute best part of my day, and when I’m working flat-out it happens every half-hour:
You might wanna watch without the sound, it’s just the furnace roaring.

So anyway, that’s what I’m up to at the moment.  Also writing, but the main thing at the moment is an awkward Christmas story that I can’t publish for a while yet.

Thanks for reading.


About coruscantbookshelf

"A writer is an introvert: someone who wants to tell you a story but doesn't want to have to make eye contact while doing it." - Adapted from John Green
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14 Responses to In Which We Discuss Work

  1. sarahtps says:

    I feel sorry for the engineers you’re working with. They’ve evidentally forgotten that even science can be beautiful; what dull lives they must lead.
    I am glad you’re enjoying your work. It sounds quite interesting, in addition to the beauty you get to see through it. (Also, I protest your opening; you’re not at all boring.)


    • I know a few engineers who are personally okay, but on the whole engineering is soulless, tedious, and intensely practical. It’s science with all the fun taken out of it, because you’re not doing stuff just for the sheer screaming heck of it. (I wonder what will happen if I mix these things together? is pretty much chemistry in a nutshell) they’re doing it because they want things to do something specific. An engineering experiment can fail – this new design for car brakes isn’t braking! A chemistry experiment cannot – so it didn’t do what I was expecting, that’s interesting, I have advanced the canon of human knowledge just by saying ‘hey guys, guess what, it doesn’t do that!’
      Also I’m kind of childish. Pretty colors, shiny things = yes I’m interested.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sarahtps says:

        I know that there are people who like “intensely practical” (my dad, for one), but given that the joke on campus is that engineers don’t have senses of humor . . . yeah. I believe it. And not being able to fail sounds very much attractive. (I asked my roommate about what you said- not that I don’t trust you, but I wanted to see what she’d say- and she was like, “Yeah, even if you blow something up, as long as you know what you did, you did good.”)
        I think attraction to pretty colors and shiny things is human nature, not just childish, though . . .

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, funny. The engineering stereotype here is ‘that’s the department that drinks the most’ which, given that ‘most everyone at uni is legal-age and a lot of the freshmen are kids away from home for the first time, is saying something.
          HI SARAH’S ROOMMATE!!!
          ‘La gazza ladra’ nature.

          Liked by 1 person

          • sarahtps says:

            O_o Ok then. I feel like engineers drinking a lot is only slightly less dangerous than chemists drinking a lot (no offense meant, but you do have the capability to blow stuff up if you’re not careful), so, yeah.
            I told my roommate you said hi, and she responded “HI SARAH’S NEW ZEALAND FRIEND!”
            I do not understand that, but ok?


            • Oh, charming. I’ll have you know that literally all the explosions on campus this week have been in engineering. (I mean, I think I may have accidentally ignited a sample that doesn’t get started until about 900 degrees, but it didn’t explode.)
              Also – ‘The Thieving Magpie’ – opera by Rossini – shiny things, magpies… another topic for the ‘do you have that in America’ convo.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! That is gorgeous.


  3. red-hot nickel ball?


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