Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learning about the ion microprobe and UCLA Botanical Gardens

I'm very fortunate to be here at UCLA for a week learning about the ion microprobe at a workshop for students. It's been pretty good so far; we've had several lectures on some mass spec basics, and then we got to look at the Cameca IMS 1280. Tour of the MegaSIMS to come on Friday. The ion probe is a beautiful instrument - there's no housing and everything is exposed so you see it as it is. The lectures have been insightful, and we've had some lab "practicals", one in which we determined the ion yield of a pit with a given geometry (very important for planning out your gameplan), and we did a practice "run" just using the channel plate as detector on some zircons. It's a bit like a crash course, but I've been trying my best to pick the brains of all the extremely smart people around me. Mass spectrometry is complicated, but the more I'm learning about the guts of it, the more I'm liking it.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get a photo in front of the ion probe before I leave, but there just hasn't been a free minute to do that yet (hopefully on Friday). And maybe sometime in the near future I might come back to UCLA to use the ion probe, particularly for these detrital zircons in garnet-bearing quartzites.

On another note, the UCLA geology building is located literally right next to a pretty nice botanical garden on campus. Unfortunately their hours are quite stringent (8-5); I actually got kicked out today at 5:01 by a dude riding on a motorized wheelbarrow (have you ever gotten kicked out of a botanical garden before?). But, I did manage to look at some of the plants this morning when they opened (I waited in front of the gate at 8:00), and then just briefly this afternoon. I managed to get a few quick photos in. The morning is best for photographing mainly for the light, but also because many of the flowers are just opening and so they're really "fresh." In the late afternoon, things start to droop a bit. They've got some incredible exotic flora (many Hawaiian and Asian species), lots of different figs (the fruits were on the ground everywhere), a whole terrace of roses (I'm not really a big fan of roses though), and lots of other plants. I will definitely go back tomorrow and Friday morning to see the rest before the SIMS workshop starts at 9!

Heliotrope, a member of the Boraginaceae.

Blue sage. Click on it to enlarge and see the scruff on the petals.

Strawberry-flavored powderpuffs... some kind of Mimosa tree (Fabaceae).

This flower was my favorite; but I forgot the name and it's written in my notebook which I don't have at the moment. More info on this one in the next post.

One more of the flower with no name at the moment. I'm proud of this one.

And last.. the cute little Blue Pea (a shrub).

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