Sunday, 18 September 2011

Caution - scientist at work!

This is what our office looks like. Joe is working, despite appearances - there is a good reason for having a cartoon character on his computer screen. I usually sit opposite him, with the printer between us. The room may look cluttered, but is in reality a very sophisticated filing system, in which the things we need most often – for example, tea mug – are most easily accessible. So, things like pens, printer and fruit bowl are on the desk between us, whereas dictionaries, envelopes and hammers are stored away in cupboards and drawers.

Our super-duper shiny new microscope is on a separate table, where there is plenty of room to draw. We normally keep it covered up unless we’re looking down it, to protect it from dust. The bit sticking out on the right of the microscope body is the camera lucida attachment. This is a wonderful device incorporating a mirror that allows the viewer to look at a fossil down the microscope and also see the paper to be drawn on. This allows one to make an accurate drawing just by going around the edges of the fossil – invaluable to those with little artistic ability.

The blue trays contain a small proportion of the fossils that we have to work with here. Most of the specimens are stored in the same type of tray on some large bookcases, but they don’t all fit there. This is another incentive to publish things quickly, before we run out of space altogether.

The windows are new; they were fitted in February, when the temperatures were below freezing. New ones were very necessary, as there was a pane of glass missing from the old ones, and they were very draughty in general. There was an insect screen concealing the missing pane, so it took us a while to work out where the icy blasts of air were coming from, and why the room never seemed to get warm.

There are more details of the things you can see, and other views of the office, on my flickr photostream (click on the photo to follow the link).


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