Elaine and I scheduled time to use the old NMR machine today. However Dr. Hornak sent us an email this morning that we had actually scheduled it on sunday. Those tend to be the effects of friday afternoons; thankfully there was still time left in the afternoon that we were able to reserve.
As part of the staff meeting, Elaine and I took all the interns down to our lab and showed them what we have be doing the past few weeks. I think that went pretty well. As I was talking about our progress I realized that we have learned a ton in the past few weeks and have taken close to 100 images between the NMR and the microscope.
After that we went up to Dr. Hornak's office. He was in a bit of a panic because we only have a few weeks left, our NMR machine is down, the old NMR is not looking too promising, and he wants us to still have a good time and learn in spite of that all. So he introduced us to a mini MRI machine that we could try to use. Our currently broken machine had a magnetic field of 11.6 tesla. This mini machine has a magnetic field of 5 x 10 ^ -5 tesla. As you can imagine, this is a huge difference that means there is much less signal and a lot of background "noise" (interference). Consequently this machine which is about one cubic foot is incredibly sensitive to metal. We spent the morning with a compass trying to figure out where there was the least pull from surrounding metal objects (these objects interfere with the signal). The best spot turned out to be the front lawn.
We tryed to set up the machine in Dr. Hornak's office first, but the signal was very poor. We are not sure if it's going to work out; but one of the up sides is that we can fit sample in it with a 5 cm diameter which opens up many more doors than 4.5 mm.
In the afternoon, we spent more time trying to set up the imaging program on the old NMR machine. We got an image that was very distorted compared to the other NMR. Dr. Hornak was able to center it and make it the right proportions. But then a gradient overload caused the system crash. So we might very well be back to square one...