music; ambience: lab sounds, homogenizer, centrifuge, evaporator
In a previous program, we followed the progress of a lab experiment where a scientist is trying to extract a compound from seaweed. Heâ€™s cleaned his samples, dried them, frozen them, ground and mixed them with a solvent to extract the compound. But thatâ€™s only the beginning. Welcome to Pulse of the Planetâ€™s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.
â€œNow our seaweed is in contact with the solvent.â€
â€œIâ€™m increasing the speed of thethe homogenizer.â€
Ben Quguineur is a PhD student at the Irish Seaweed Center, at the National University of Galway, in Ireland. Heâ€™s looking for compounds in seaweed which might be useful for nutritional or pharmaceutical purposes. His liquid samples are stirred, put in a centrifuge, and then the liquids are evaporated and the solids are freeze dried.
â€œOnce your sample is freeze dry, itâ€™s ready for the analysis. By analyzing your samples, you want to know the family of compounds, maybe their size if they are coupled to another molecule because you really get deep into the seaweed, deep into the molecules. So you have a sense of something you canâ€™t see with the eyes, or you have another sense of another level, molecular level. If you gather your seaweed on a specific time of the year, you will have the whole family of molecule, but in a different concentration than another time of the year. So really the time of the year even sometimes the time of day can have an influence on the physiology of your seaweed.
In the course his experiment, Ben will do hundreds of extractions, trying to isolate the compound he wants to analyze.
Please check out our latest project at kidsciencechallenge.com. Pulse of the Planetâ€™s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner.