The rock and ice mechanics lab at Lamont-Doherty is led by PIs Heather Savage, Christine McCarthy and Ben Holtzman. We are in the process of growing our lab and building our experimental program. Along with a team of postdocs, undergrads, grads, and longtime staff engineer Ted, we are rehabilitating and revamping some of the old equipment and building new rigs for exciting new experiments on both rock and ice. You can follow along with our progress here.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Newest lab member

Upon returning from Japan it is a race against the clock to catch as much time with Ted as possible before he heads out for his summer holiday. Although I usually work from home on Tuesdays (and thus don't have daycare), I can't waste a single day. So Elenore gets to come along and hang out with me in the lab. Usually she can't stand being in the playpen, but I think she got the sense that it was safer in there than out on the lab floor. She happily played while Mom soldered and Ted designed more electronic schematics.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Presses and baby presses

One of the aspects of my research in Takei-san's lab is grain growth of prepared sample via annealing (that is, placing the sample in an incubator). When I was previously working in the lab, we found that during annealing, grain growth caused porosit. Although the porosity did not affect our attenuation measurements, it did cause scatter in the modulus data, so is not ideal. After I left, they developed a method for keeping confining pressure on the sample while it incubated for weeks at a time. They also slowly ramp up the temperature so that the grain growth is not too rapid. The method for applying the pressure is this spring press. A spring is tightened by screwing down with an allen wrench so that it loads the piston from above. Since the sample is held in the die, it cannot deform and the stress confines the sample. It worked wonderfully.  
They have a few of these prepared so that multiple samples can anneal at a time. Also, since our protocol involves making a small companion, or "baby" sample, on which we perform microstructural examinations, a small, baby press was also made. It is scaled so that its spring applies the same corresponding stress to the smaller diameter sample. Uchida-san machined that baby press while I was there so it was very fun for us. It was pretty cute. Why am I bringing this up?  Well another fun thing that occurred during my trip was a birthday of a lab mate. Birthdays are a special treat because we are privileged to see some of Yamauchi-san's artwork. Below is the awesome birthday card she drew to celebrate Suzuki-san's birthday. Note the spring presses and that my baby Elenore is holding the new baby spring press.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A machine shop to aspire to...

One of the many things that I love about working at ERI is Uchida-san's machine shop. It is a masterpiece. Every single thing is in its right place…

...and is sparkling. I don't understand how he can get a lathe that shiny. Ours is covered with a film of oil and dust that is decades old. I asked him what he uses, thinking there was some magical cleaner only available in Japan. He laughed and said that he just used a clean cloth, but that he cleaned the whole lathe right after using it, every single time he uses it.
Even something so insignificant as sandpaper is ordered and labeled by grit size and the cutting tool is right there. Ours are thrown haphazardly in a single drawer. 
So all of this has got me thinking that we may need an Extreme Machine Shop Makeover as well. 
Stay tuned.