As promised, learning the experimental ropes began today. It began with a crash course in stoichiometry, led by John, the student veteran of the Andresen lab. Once we had recalled the number crunching of high school chemistry, we were sent to the pipettes to create solutions of varying concentrations of Mg, P, and Co. We created these samples so we could be trained on the main machine of the lab, the Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES). To quickly summaries what this machine does, it pumps solutions through a high temperature plasma, which blasts the molecules in solution apart and detects the resulting ions by analyzing the discrete wave lengths detected at different regions throughout the machine.
Using the ICP, we can send DNA on NCP molecules that have been bathed in different ionic solutions, we can detect the ions that attach themselves to molecules. It's important to note that the main error in the experiments comes from pipetting, so the Foreign Factor will be getting lots of practice on that, competitions galore.