Using the Electron Mircoprobe (by )

Today I went into the lab once more and place the lunar sample into the machine - this time instead of blasting it with x-rays to get element maps I was picking out specific points to hit with an electron beam and see what they are made off.

First off we picked a selection of elements that I wanted to get proportions of and then I picked the points I wanted to know about specifically. From the element maps and the back scatter image I had taken previously I knew that I apparently had several minerals (I had trudged through four large tomes of mineralogy and lunar/planetary stuff to find out what sort of things I might have lurking in the sample. I had then taken the element maps and compared them - drawn faint scetches of them and then working out what elements I had in conjection where drew on mineral areas with coloured pens onto a printout of the backscatter image. (He told me this was actually an x-ray map just not element specific so I need to check whats what with him I think).

They seemed quiet impressed that I had done this but it seemed like the only way to make things clear to me personally. I was becoming frustrated that I couldn't work out the actual proportions and therefore the exact minerals from the elelment maps and that I could only narrow things down. Fortunatly this is what today was actually about so I worked out how many samples I wanted and were to take the measurements - unfortunatly becuase there is a bad polish on the sample I had to be careful and was highly restricted in where I could take measurements.

But I selected 101 points each point was going to take about 9 minutes to analyse but I specifically went in early to get it all going and as it turned out had plenty of time.

I had also narrowed down the minerals really far more accuratly that I thought I had and I had worked out stuff about my 'dirty' quartz that that does seem to be correct which is very cool and makes me feel like I might just have a chance of doing this.

The only thing is I found myself baulkin at the interface of data and computers - there are situations that I just see no reason not to have a computer automate and I think they should be relatively easy to implement and yet there is nothing! This keeps happening every where I turn in geology and earth sciences there is just huge gaps that computers could feel reducing monkey work and increasing the amount of research that can be analysis in depth!

Other issues that I have had is finding information barred to me - this is painful when I would happily pay say £10 for an e-book of the phase diagrams I needed or even just the chapters I needed - then and there I may even have gone up to £20 but it is only avalible as a book and at around $300 which sucks big time.

Can anyone tell me what the restrictions would be on me finding data in papers and ploting my own graphs/diagrams and then putting them on the internet for free so that people like me don't get stuck like this? I just needed a guid to see if I was on the right path. The question of science on the net has been interesting me alot in the past year and I wonder lots about hwo things are going - I like sharing info and I think it helps move projects and science as a whole on but there are those who tell me that I sholdn't talk about my projects and ideas incase they are published by other first.

Also there is the question of funding and where the money is coming from to do the research - I find myself pondering over the wole peer review system and how a nice fast version could apply to articles on line - making the turn around of science much faster without loosing the reliablity.

It is a thorny problem and I feel slightly swamped in it.

Oh well I'm sure I'll sort it all out eventually 🙂

The only scary thing about todays stuff was that if I want to go out of the lab I have to remember to press a button that puts an alunium or copper block infront of my electron beam so that it doesn't burn a whole in the sample - this made me quiet nervous!


  • By GeologistFriend, Fri 27th Mar 2009 @ 2:14 pm

    Sarah, if you need certain phase diagrams your best bet is to borrow the books from the library and photocopy the bits you need. It's a common practice and you did it during your undergrad degree, I'm sure. Or you could borrow them from people at the university/museum etc. I, personally, wouldn't put any graphs I made online, it gives rise to the possibility that you may not be properly acknowledged if anyone uses them.

    As for online journals, some do exist that are purely online. The ones I've come across aren't necessarily hugely quicker in terms of turnaround time. I've just had a paper accepted in Palaeo3 and it took 2.5 months to get reviewers comments in and they gave us 3 months to address them. That's just the peer reveiw system and it relies on the goodwill of your peers to review your work. This takes time. The reviewing is done online anyway (you download the paper and often review by tracking changes). I hope this helps.

  • By sarah, Sun 29th Mar 2009 @ 9:11 pm

    The trouble is I'm not physically near the libaries and it costs me alot in both time and money to go in - I'm going in like once a month at the moment which renders that path almost useless to me.

    I currently have books I have borrowed from others as my registration is still screwed up so don't actually have libary access - had to resort to using Imperials libary on Alumi stuff as can't even get day access to UCL and Birkbeck.

    I've been looking into the whole peer review system and there are wholes in it - I like peer review and think that that is lacking some what on the internet which was the problem I've been looking at.

    Well done on the paper!

    erm.... which geologist are you? I can't work it out from your email (unless you want to remain annymous that is!)

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