Monday, October 25, 2010

When Life Hands You Test Tubes

So there I was, at the NEURO 2010 conference in Kobe last month. It's a really large conference, with thousands of attendees. Ten parallel seminar tracks over three days, and posters by the hundreds, on row after row of poster boards on two floors of the conference center. Two centers, really; the conference didn't fit in one building but was held at two adjacent locations.

NEURO 2010

One of the poster session rooms in early morning as I arrived to set up our poster. With multiple seminar tracks and many hundreds of posters, this kind of conference forces you to only look at the stuff that really interest you. Which means you miss out on all the non-relevant research. But it's the seemingly irrelevant stuff that tends to give you good, new ideas, that fire up your imagination, that make you try things you previously wouldn't have. I much prefer a smaller conference like SAB for precisely this reason.

With so many attendees from very lucrative medical and pharmaceutical fields, plenty of companies choose to sponsor the conference and exhibit their products. Mostly it's research-oriented stuff such as laboratory equipment, books, software and so on. There were several rows of companies touting various clinical and lab-oriented sciency stuff.

Now, disposable gloves or automated rat feeding stations aren't exactly going to set your heart racing, not when your attention is mostly on the seminars and presentations. So many companies had some small ploy to raise interest - they'd give away candy or pens, or they'd sponsor free coffee at the poster session or something like that.

One company, a manufacturer of PCR equipment and accessories, held a raffle with some decent prices; you gave them your business card in exchange for a chance to win an iPad, a Nintendo DS and other prices. And even if you didn't win a real price, you could still win a sample of their products, delivered after the conference. I didn't win any of the cool prices of course, but I did win a product sample. A friend of mine did too; I suspect most people at the raffle did.

The "sample" arrived last week. I got an email from the building management telling me I have a delivery and could I come down and pick it up?

Lottery Win! We Got Them Tubes

Two boxes of plastic test tubes for PCR use. Two large boxes. Three hundred 50ml tubes and three hundred 15ml ones. With caps. If this is a sample, I really wonder what a proper shipment looks like for this company. My friend got a similar shipment to his office in Tokyo, and one of our graduate students here got two boxes as well.

Test Tubes

A 50ml tube and an 15ml tube; for some reason the 15ml one is only marked up to 14ml. We gave away most of it to the bioscience department where they can make better use of the stuff, but I've kept one bag of each - 25 and 50 units - as a memento, and because, well, they seem too useful not to keep a few around.

So, what to do with the ones I kept? They are possibly useful for film and darkroom work I think. Could use them as fun, thematic shot glasses - any strongly colored drink would look cool. Molds for fruit jelly or home-made ice cream. Neat containers for small screws, bolts and nuts. They'd make a pretty cool spice rack, except that spices should be stored in the dark. Props, of course, whenever I want to take a sciency-looking picture. I'm open to suggestions.

1 comment:

  1. Thematic shotglasses indeed! Have you ever been to any of the Lockups (theme restaurant)? There is one in Shibuya. The drinks are medically themed, and delivered in lab equipment: beakers, test tubes... one came with 4 test tubes AND a pipette for you to mix them with.


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