Field of Science


I have just received my first paycheck. This is quite a big moment for me; for the first time ever someone has given me money in order to carry out science, thus making me (in my eyes at least) a Proper Scientist.

I chose to celebrate this great moment in my lifetime by spinning around very fast on my computer chair making squeaky noises. I still can't quite believe that someone has handed me a substantial amount of money for the most enjoyable six weeks of my holiday.

And the best thing is that due to an accumulation of reasons within the lab (and my long summer holiday) I have been allowed to stay a Lab Rat in September as well.


As it would probably be a good idea to put something at least vaguely scientific in this post I tried to look up how autoclave tape is made. Autoclave tape looks exactly like masking tape except that it has fine white lines across it. It is also apparently slightly more sticky. You attach it to anything that you are about to put in the autoclave (which heats things up to very high temperatures in order to sterilize them) and as they are autoclaved the white lines go black. This allows you to tell instantly whether or not something has been autoclaved (and is also handy for holding stuff together).

Wikipedia says this:

"Autoclave tape is an adhesive tape used in autoclaving to indicate whether the correct temperature has been reached for the elimination of all living organisms (typically 121 degrees Celsius).[1]

Small strips of the tape are applied to the items before they are placed into the autoclave. The tape is similar to masking tape but slightly more adhesive, to allow it to adhere under the hot, moist conditions of the autoclave. The tape typically has diagonal markings containing an ink which changes colour (usually beige to black) upon heating. One such ink contains 30.1% lead thiosulfate, 0.6% magnesium carbonate, 20.1% neocryl B8141, 30.1% ethanol, 22.7% ethyl acetate and 49% ink solids. Unfortunately these percentages add up to more than 100%, so this data is completely bogus. "

Yes. Very helpful. The manufacturers aren't particularly keen on giving the secret away either. This maybe for complicated legal reasons or it may just be that it hasn't occurred to them that anybody would be interested in knowing what autoclave tape is made of.


FreeWildebeest said...

Money is great. As for autoclave tape, I wonder if you could sell it to chefs to know when they've cooked particular dishes correctly. I'm sure it must have uses outside the lab/sterilization world.

Lab Rat said...

I'm not sure at which temperature the autoclave tape changes colour. It is probably well in excess of 100 degrees, so I'm not sure how much relavance it would have in the kitchen.

I also suspect that anyone who needs things that change colour at certain temperatures will probably have already found something.

FreeWildebeest said...

Damn. Oh well, I'll have to come up with another plan to make millions.