Now that is one mighty fine looking plot of data if I do say so myself! Honestly I was just excited and needed to share my pretty plot. 99% of the time you’re not getting pretty/useful data and you feel like with world’s biggest chump, but for that brief 1% everything is falling into place, the data fits, the signal is noise free, and you feel like the world’s most amazing scientist ever – and you just have to tell everyone all about it…

Damn son, that is some sweet looking data!

Science is fickle. You know the information you want is in your sample, somewhere. Your job is to coax it out of hiding so you can learn more about how the world works – or at least get something useful to publish. Certain days (ok, most days) the information is hiding, petulant, and reluctant to reveal itself no matter what you try. Maybe it would like a little more laser intensity? No? How about a little less? Still no? Ok, how about a different color… ? Nothing works and so you give up exasperated, hoping that maybe tomorrow will be different. After awhile of this you need some fresh ideas to try out, as there’s no sense in repeating what is clearly not working! That’s when it’s time to hit the published literature and see what helpful nuggets of information await.

I went through this over the last few weeks of lab work. I had been trying to observe a certain threshold laser intensity for which the sample started to saturate and different dynamics took hold. I was using transient absorption techniques for weeks, changing the power, changing the wavelength, to no avail. I knew that this *should* work as I had seen other people use it with success but for some reason it was not. Frustrated and feeling the need to smash my sample I decided it was time to try something else. I read through some papers and saw that another research group had used the emission of light from the sample to observe the threshold value that I was looking for. Of course! Emission is much more sensitive! I can probe at much lower laser intensities and still observe signal. After spending a few days setting up the experiment and figuring out how to correct the data for background emission and whatnot, voila!

Thanks for reading – because tomorrow I go back to being the world’s biggest chump…

5 responses »

  1. Luke says:

    You should used the rainbow laser to solve the problem much faster,eh?

  2. Shanon says:

    Ha! so true Paul! I have plots like this that took me like a year to get (and get right). And they look like about a days worth of work. Good job Paul! You did it!

  3. Kevin says:

    Luke also seems to think adding pure oxygen to everything makes the world better. You should somehow incorporate that into the investigation.

  4. I wish I knew what the heck is going on with that graph. But go you!

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