Why Take a Freezer to Antarctica?

February 28, 2013

Dr. Mike Stroud BsC, MD, DSci, Expedition Medical Adviser & Human Sciences Research Lead for The Coldest Journey explains:

From TheColdestJourney.Org

From TheColdestJourney.Org

The Coldest Journey, a 2000-mile traverse across Antarctica, provides a unique opportunity for a substantial Human Sciences research project. In fact, NASA suggested that polar traverses could be excellent analogues for space research. While fixed polar bases have been used for spaceflight studies, similar work has never been performed on a small travelling group who are truly isolated. Therefore, The Coldest Journey is of great interest, with research aiming to study both the physical and psychological effects of the expedition’s extreme nature. These include:

A prolonged period of complete isolation: The team will be alone on the ice from March to October and the isolation experienced will be “real” since there will be no opportunity for evacuation during the Antarctic winter.

An altered day-night cycle: The team will experience three to four months of complete darkness enabling research in relation to measurable changes in circadian rhythm.

Chronic hypobaric hypoxia: The expedition will encounter altitudes up around 3,200 meters. The extreme cold temperatures and the lower gravitational field at high latitudes will further decrease atmospheric pressure, creating low oxygen levels equivalent to those of more than 3,800-meters altitude.

Exposure to extreme environments: The Antarctic Plateau is the world’s largest desert exposing the team to both extreme cold and low humidity.

Periods of unusually limited visual stimuli coupled with potential hypoxic changes to the eyes: Some team members will spend many hours on most days looking into darkness and all members will be subject to a degree of chronic hypoxia. This is expected to have effects on vision and visual processing.

The team will undergo full physiological characterization in the UK in terms of body weight, physical fitness, and muscle function and structure before and after the journey. They will then undergo a repeating 28-day cycle of diary recording and testing throughout the crossing to evaluate:

 a.      Appetite, food intake, activity levels, and consequent changes in fitness, strength, body weight, and body composition

 b.      Reflex speeds and cognitive function using computer based testing

 c.      Blood and urinary hormones related to stress and circadian rhythms

 d.      Retina and visual function

 e.      Vitamin D levels and their relationship to immune function

 f.       The bacteria being carried on and in their bodies

 g.      Sleep duration and quality using EEG

 h.       Psychological status and determination of small group dynamics

 i.        Haemostatic function (the ability of the blood to clot)

 j.        Kidney function and markers of kidney damage

 k.       Performance and mood before and after taking caffeine tablets

 l.        Responses to hand cooling

So, Why Take a Freezer to Antarctica?

These experiments will generate many biological samples which need to be preserved by deep freezing. Although the samples could be kept frozen through the Antarctic winter by simply storing them outside, the expedition may not be picked up until well into the next Antarctic summer. By that time, temperatures will rise far too high to preserve our samples for later analysis. Furthermore, the samples will then need to be transported out from Antarctica by ship. It is therefore critical for our work that we have a portable -80C freezer unit. That’s why the team is using the Shuttle Portable Ultra-Low Temperature Freezer from Cole-Parmer, who donated the freezer for the expedition.

Find this freezer, and other innovative items, in the new 2013/2014 Cole-Parmer® Sourcebook.

 Disclaimer: Cole-Parmer products are not approved or intended for, and should not be used for medical, clinical, surgical or other patient-oriented applications.


Thanksgiving in America

November 21, 2012

Chefs know that the right tools make cooking easier and safer. From the traditional turkey to the sweet potatoes to the cranberry relish and pumpkin pie, the Thanksgiving dinner requires much planning and preparation. To create this delicious feast, heated or cooled to the correct temperatures, with palate-pleasing textures and presentation, chefs rely on thermometers, balances or scales, and waterproof pH pocket meters.

For a safe non-contact reading in under a second, the Oakton® TempTestr IR Food Thermometer measures food temperature from 40 to 140°F or 4 to 60ºC. Quick checks with a non-contact thermometer can remove the hazard of cross-contamination. Another option is the Folding Food Service Thermometer with adjustable angled probe. Use this folding thermometer for any food handling application—three LEDs provide instant, error-free indication of critical food temperature zones.

For properly proportioned servings, the Ohaus FD Portion Control Scale offers a fast, stable weight display within two seconds. To measure the acidity or alkalinity of cranberry relish, wine or juices, try the Extech® Waterproof pH100 Pocket pH Tester or the Horiba® B-213 Twin Compact pH Pocket Tester.

Read for Six Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips from the National Restaurant Association.

Other related articles on food safety:

Tech Challenge: Temperature Monitoring of Food Products

Advancing Food Safety: What’s Happening Now and What’s to Come


How is Your Posture? October is National Ergonomics Month

October 18, 2012

National Ergonomics Month is an opportunity to check our work activities to assess our risk of injury and musculoskeletal disorders. According to OSHA, properly fitting workplace conditions result in higher productivity, fewer injuries, and greater worker satisfaction. Repetitive activities, prolonged exertion of the hands, and heavy lifting all generate concern for ergonomics experts.

In the office, proper back support, seat and knee angle, and seat height contribute to a posture that is ideal for long hours facing the computer. Keeping wrists straight and a viewing distance of 18-24” from the screen also help align us properly to prevent discomfort and possible injury.

In the lab, repetitive motions such as pipetting, operating microtomes, or even regularly working with microscopes can cause strain. Awkward positions while using biosafety cabinets or lab hoods can also induce muscular stress. To mitigate laboratory ergonomic risks, consider posture, arm and hand position, and flexibility of movement. The OSHA Fact Sheet for Laboratory Safety Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders details all the specific precautions to take. Some tools that can help are the Cole-Parmer Autoclavable Ergonomic Pipettors with a lightweight design and soft plunger movement to reduce hand fatigue. Microscope arm rests provide a soft padded surface to support forearms while viewing samples. Use with any size microscope. The ergonomic design of the Mettler Toledo New Classic ML Precision Balance with a brilliant display and intuitive user interface makes it easy to use for basic balancing needs.

In manufacturing or industrial settings, back injuries and slips and falls are added to the list of potential risks. Alleviate strain on feet and legs with anti-fatigue mats for workers who are standing for hours at a time. To complement proper lifting, hand trucks can be used to haul heavy boxes and equipment and may minimize back strain. The Ergonomic Two-Shelf Truck reduces wrist strain while allowing one-handed operation. Industrial work lamps such as the Ergonomic Incandescent Task Lamp with cool-to-the-touch handles allow you to position light where you need it.


Celebrating Organic Chemistry in Cheshire, England

September 27, 2012

Cole-Parmer stand at The Celebration of Organic Chemistry

Scientists, chemists, and researchers from chemical and pharmaceutical companies as well as renowned academics celebrated the magic of Organic Chemistry at the AstraZeneca site, Alderley Edge, Cheshire, UK this week. In addition to other applications, organic chemistry is a key technology for the discovery of pharmaceutically useful agents, agrochemicals, and molecular switches and for the synthesis of natural products in both academic and industrial research.  Indeed it is the keystone of fine chemical research and development. The theme of the 2012 meeting was Driving Synthetic Excellence Through Collaborative Research with presentations by leading UK, US, and European academics. 

The compact and economical picoSpin™-45 Benchtop NMR Spectrometer

At the Cole-Parmer stand, Andy McLachlan, NMR Specialist and Colin Heathfield, Fluid Handling Expert, demonstrated two new products:  the picoSpin-45 Benchtop NMR Spectrometer and the compact Centrifan PE small volume rotary evaporator.

This autumn is busy for Cole-Parmer UK! In October, Andy will present In-line Stop/Flow techniques in Benchtop NMR at the Labstract Flow Technologies in Bioscience seminar, and will offer users practical and hands-on demonstrations at the newly fitted Labstract laboratories. At the end of October, we will be heading to northeast England for a visit at the Newcastle University’s School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials.

To find out more about our new products and where you can meet us next, contact UK Marketing.


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