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Retesting the tube

点击量:   时间:2019-03-08 08:19:00

By Nicole Johnston in Washington DC CALL it reinventing the wheel if you like, but Milt Jackson is convinced that his patented test tube is the next big thing. All he has to do now is convince sceptical scientists to abandon tradition and replace their most familiar piece of equipment. Jackson and his colleague Jenny Barajas have designed a test tube that is sure to raise eyebrows. Instead of having to be held vertically, it lies prone on the lab bench on its flattened base, eliminating the need for a test-tube rack. However, the test tube can be clipped into a plastic holder for extra stability (see Figure). Its neck slants up at a 45° angle to prevent the contents from spilling. The novel shape allows the test tube to be placed directly on balances, hotplates or microscopes, says Jackson, who has formed a company called Norwind-Cortez, based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It can also be used vertically like a conventional tube, and fits standard lab equipment such as racks and centrifuges. Jackson has tried to interest chemists at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in his design. So far, however, he admits that the most common response has been amused scepticism. “New ideas take time to catch on, and the customer has to be ready,” says Jackson. Billy Joe Evans, one of the chemists who agreed to look at the tube, doubts if it will replace the standard design. But he thinks it will prove useful for certain applications. One of the chief advantages, he says, is that liquid in the tube has a greater surface area in contact with the air. This minimises the likelihood of “bumping”—having boiling liquids squirt out of the tube as air pockets trapped during heating are released. Other innovators who have tried to introduce novel laboratory glassware say that they have also encountered resistance from scientists. David Howard, manager of business development in the science division at Corning in New York, remembers a less-than-enthusiastic response to the launch of a range of plastic-coated glassware designed to contain broken glass and corrosive substances in the event of an accident. “People asked why were we bothering to do it, even within the company,” he says. Six years later, Corning is selling tens of thousands of pieces a year, and other firms are copying the idea.”That’s the best form of flattery,