I’ve been working with a NMR a lot lately. It generates a reality all its own. Working with it during the past couple of days has taught me a few lessons:
- You left something down a flight of stairs in the other lab. Figure out what it is.
- Murphy’s law says as soon as a professor says this needs to be done today, another student will show up with the same urgency, whose sample should take much less time than yours. In theory. His sample is bigger on the inside.
- After you insert a sample, you will realize that you forgot to remove your metal watch, which might have messed up the magnetism of the NMR or your watch. No joke, my watch is losing time, though that might be the battery.
- If you’re counting on getting “done” within a set amount of time, you won’t, because…
- Shimming a sample never works the same way twice!
- It may be necessary to pray for the equipment to get it to shim properly.
- If labels can fall off, they will. Color code the caps of NMR tubes in sequences to make things simpler. (I use green-white-blue for incrementally more concentrated solutions.)
- Make too much solution. Even if you use a volumetric flask, the elves will steal a few tenths of a milliliter.
- There isn’t enough time to do homework between samples. Well, maybe like one question.
- Do the dishes. The dish tray is a queue, not a dishwasher.
- Things often don’t work out as planned. Keep going. 🙂