Laboratory Equipment – The wind beneath the wings of Science

Edward Teller once said, “The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.” I agree with this statement, though I would evolve it ever so slightly. The fact is, the capability for the science of today to become the technology of tomorrow is wholly dependent on the quality of the technology of today to support the science of tomorrow. Technology and science are in a symbiotic relationship that relies on quality laboratory equipment to sustain each other.

The evolution of laboratory equipment

Laboratory equipment evolves just as science evolves. As new horizons are explored, so is the need to be able to effectively view these horizons and interpret what we see. The first telescope could magnify objects by only three times. Today, the Hubble telescope can see up to fifteen billion lightyears away, and now the James Webb Space Telescope is even more powerful. Because of these advances in laboratory equipment, we are learning more and more about our universe. And this works in reverse as well. Now, with the advancement of nanotechnology, we can look just as deep inwardly, as we can do outwardly.

That will never do – The right tools for the right job

A cardiologist would never use a screwdriver for performing open heart surgery. They would use the right tool for the right job. This should also be the case when it comes to laboratory equipment. The fact is, if your organisation is using laboratory equipment, it is safe to assume that accuracy is important. If there is a tool out there specifically designed to do a job you need done, you should use that tool and not a ‘that’ll do’.

There’s no such thing as small mistakes

In the early 2000’s NASA launched the Genesis space probe into orbit. Its purpose was to collect samples of solar wind before returning to earth safely for these samples to be analysed. However, its 2004 landing did not go according to plan. The probe crashed into the Utah dessert destroying and contaminating most of the samples it had brought back. In a 2009 report, it was determined that the probe did not realise that it had entered the Earth’s atmosphere and therefore did not deploy its parachute. The reason this happened was because two employees at a subcontractor named Lockheed Martin had installed two tiny parts of the probe’s accelerometers in backwards. A tiny mistake that cost over $260 million US dollars.

So again, there’s no such thing as small mistakes, even more so at the atomic level. Ensuring that you have the best and most suitable laboratory equipment to do a job is not only important, but essential to the safety of technicians, laboratory workers, and equipment operators.

It just makes cents

Science and technology does not exist in a vacuum. They live within a fiscal world where errors and inaccuracy have real world consequences. Companies have gone bust because of mistakes made by poor laboratory equipment, and more importantly, lives have been lost due to incorrect readings from poor laboratory equipment. You only need to look at stories like Chernobyl.

So make sure you have the correct tool for the correct job. It just makes sense.