Sunday, November 20, 2011

Metamorphosis of a Superhero

Spies go undercover, adopting a new set of clothing and a new appearance in order to fulfill their missions.  Superheroes have brightly colored suits, capes, and a wide array of weapons and gadgets at their disposal while they save the day.  Geochemists often have their own equivalent of the superhero costume or undercover spy clothing- they have clean lab gear!

Several weeks ago I shared a picture drawn by my best friend that shows me as a superhero named GeoKate.  Here it is again in case you missed it the first time:
This picture along with questions from several people about what I have to wear when working in the clean lab have inspired me to present a real-life view of GeoKate, who by attending grad. school is in training to become a geochemistry superhero.  Enjoy!

The Metamorphosis: From Ordinary Grad. Student to Clean Lab Superhero
Upon entering the outer room of the clean lab, the heroine leaves behind the tools of her everyday life (keys, phone, shoes, etc) and prepares to transform.  Winding her way deeper into the lab, she encounters the cloak room, and the metamorphosis begins.

1)  Shoes- Lab shoes not only prevent acid from damaging the heroine's feet, but add a stylish touch to the superhero uniform.
 2) Hair net- A stray hair in your lab beaker is definitely not acceptable.  Neither is having your hair in your face while you're flying.
3) Hood-  A key part of obscuring your identity, since it makes everyone in the lab look identical from most angles.
 4) Lab coat-  Besides the practical use of keeping her clothes clean while fighting crime and dissolving rock, it nicely doubles as a cape while in flight.  It also confuses all of the various evil doctors and villains who often use lab coats as their standard uniform.  They don't expect a superhero to wear one!
5) Face shield/goggles-  GeoKate is modeling the face shield here but most of the time wears the less extreme goggle option.  But sometimes you just need the extra protection and a bug guard while flying!
6) Gloves- Blue nitrile gloves.  Definitely an up-and-coming fashion trend for the functionality conscious.  No germs, no mess, and a splash of color that matches the shoes. Not to mention no fingerprints.....
  Voila! The metamorphosis is complete. to save the day! (or learn more about garnet...)


  1. So you're doing rock/mineral digests in nasty acids?

  2. Yep. Garnet digestion in nitric, perchloric, HF, etc.

  3. Yeep. Perchloric is scary. And I've done thousands of kjeldahl digests, the final step of which involves concentrated sufuric at 350 C for six hours; believe me, I treated those flasks with some serious respect. However, I've read too many scary stories about HF to ever really feel safe working with it.

  4. Do you need me to send you some Aqua Regia?