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Second week - the start of DNAN

 This week, I ran trials of the second munition compound we're looking at - DNAN, 2,4-dinitroanisole. We were just trying to get an idea of how long it would take for hydrolysis to take place in all of the different conditions. For TNT, the fastest complete hydrolysis was finished in under 10 minutes, apparently. DNAN was a bit slower - somewhere between 5 and 24 hours for the fastest hydrolysis, and possibly over 3 weeks for the longest one. At least there are colors to help me see how the reaction is progressing. Hydrolyzed DNAN turns a nice yellow color. TNT was more of a reddish-orange.

We also restocked the buffer solutions, and spent the better part of one of the days trying to fix the HPLC - it kept giving us split peaks or trailing peaks rather than nice symmetrical ones. But such is the way of research. And there were some distractions throughout the week.

There was the third (my second) of the lunchtime talks to go to. The first one I had been to was that first Friday, when we had a very interesting talk by Veronika Megler describing her career path. I did come away from it feeling a bit depressed, I must admit, since I'm busy trying to figure out what I want to do in grad school and what direction I want to take my life in, and part of the message of the talk was that you can't predict where your life will go, and you should enjoy the good times when they happen. I'm really glad we got to hear her speak, though, since it was a refreshing perspective on life, that was slightly more normal than the more common one to hear about someone dropping out of college and becoming fabulously rich by the age of 25. Since that doesn't happen to most people, it was good to have someone show us what a more realistic life is like.  

The second talk (which was actually this week) was on ethical issues in research, and was given by my PI. That one touched on several gray areas in science, such as plagiarism and falsification. Obviously, it wasn't as much about blatant plagiarism in college essays, but more about potentially plagiarizing from yourself, and how graphs can be used, and how to deal with data. It was weird to see some of the things you encounter in general labs coming up as serious issues, such as data that isn't very good, or using a graph your friend made. Those lab reports weren't published, though, and it was a fun mental exercise to think about how publishing changes the magnitude of issues.

Finally, on Friday, all the interns had to give a little presentation on what they were doing, and where their projects were going. Unfortunately, I didn't have much data, and the data I did have got caught up in a Mac/PC incompatability problem in Powerpoint. Otherwise, it was really cool to get to see what the other interns were doing, and the variety of projects showed just how much you can do with water.