• Question: Can you give me an example of one of the experiments that you do in your subject?

    Asked by gmelion to Amit, Emily, Jo, Martin, Paige on 20 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Joanne Davies

      Joanne Davies answered on 20 Mar 2012:


      hello gmelion. Great question. 🙂

      The last single experiment I did was in a laboratory in Tyco where I tested some water valves to write a report for a customer. The customer had contacted us to say our valves and some parts were leaking so I tested every single one to see what happened.

      I wrote the experiment exactly the way you do at school with a method, materials and recorded my results; from this I could see exactly what happened and I was able to produce a report for the client.

      There was nothing wrong with our valves.
      They lasted under pressure of over 100 bar.
      But I discovered our assembly instructions weren’t clear and due to that, the customer could make an error and they could leak everywhere!

      We changed the instructions to make sure the customer couldn’t make the same mistake.
      After that, we had a lot less complaints and returns. 🙂

    • Photo: Martin Wallace

      Martin Wallace answered on 20 Mar 2012:


      We have to make sure that all our hospital beds are strong enough to cope with everything that will happen to them when they are in a medical environment. One part of a hospital bed is the siderails which stop people from falling out during the night. Because these get lifted up and down many times every day we have to make sure that the mechanism will keep working for many years – so we have to test it.
      We take a new design of siderail, fit it to a bed, and then lift it up and down 30,000 times! This would would take a long time to do and be very exhausting for someone to stand there doing it, so we have to create some motors and actuators and program them to operate the side rails.
      This can be quite difficult and frustrating to set up, but once it’s going we can let it run all day and night, hopefully without the siderail breaking. When the 30,000 cycles are up – it can take over a week! – we take a look at all the components to make sure that they aren’t damaged.

    • Photo: Paige Brown

      Paige Brown answered on 20 Mar 2012:


      Hi gmelion!!!!!!! GREAT CHAT today!!!

      This is a cool question. I’ll give you two examples! One in nanotechnology, one in communications!

      1) When I was a researcher in nanotechnology, I ran an experiment that was meant to see if nanoparticles with drugs attached to them could have an effect on cancer cells. I would grow up (or culture) my cancer cells in little plates. When the plates were covered with cancer cells (I grew a cell called HeLa cell), I would treat each plate with a different kind of nanoparticle (a nanoparticle with drug, a nanoparticle without drug, maybe even the drug by itself with no nanoparticle). I would leave the cells overnight.

      The next morning, I would treat my cells with a special type of dye that I could see under the microscope. Then I would look under the microscope to see how my treated cells were doing! Maybe the ones with the nanoparticle and the drug had the least amount of a protein that I was trying to get rid of with the drug, so they wouldn’t look as colorful as the other cells! Basically, we were trying to see if we could use nanoparticles to ‘carry’ the drug into the cells better than the drug could do on its own!!!

      2) In my communications experiment, I designed two different videos (yes, I made them) about climate change. One portrayed climate change as a GLOBAL issue, looking at the effects on polar bears and people all over the world. The other video was about LOCAL issues, how climate change is affecting Louisiana for example. Then I showed the two different videos to students in Louisiana, and asked them questions about the science of climate change and how worried they were about it. We had some evidence that people care more about the issue if you talk to them about the impacts to their local town, but they remember more of the science if you talk about the bigger picture!

    • Photo: Amit Pujari

      Amit Pujari answered on 21 Mar 2012:


      Hello gmelion, excellent question and sorry for the late reply.

      For my PhD studies, I developed a vibration device. A vibration device for improving muscle strength.
      I tested whether our device works or not by doing experiments. I asked our volunteers to use the vibration device and I recorded their muscle activity.

      By looking at volunteers’ muscle activity I knew whether, the device is useful in improving their muscles (strength).
      Here is the link of a paper which I published after doing experiments.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19964248

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