One of the Ducks and I took a day trip to San Diego to demo a piece of equipment that we really want but cannot afford: a compact X-ray device that would allow us to scan our protein crystals in the crystallization tray without physically manipulating the crystals (which can lead to damage). You can even get enough data from the images to index the crystals. But as I don't have a spare $650K handy, we will have to bypass this for the present.
The instrument we looked at was in a lab at Scripps Institute and it was the first time I'd been there. The particular building we visited had an enormous lobby with no ceiling and lots of open space decorated here and there with sculptures that would interest mostly scientists. The labs themselves were typical academic labs: overcrowded with equipment, lab "stuff", and people. The shelves were all overstuffed with consumables. There were -80C freezers lining the hallways. It's interesting to see the difference between academic and commercial labs -- the set-up of the academic labs I saw would have given our Safety people apoplexy. And all of that space taking up by the beautiful lobby would be seen as wasted space -- it would quickly be remolded as more labs and offices.
On the drive back home, we could see the Griffith Park fire all the way from the 405 Fwy, getting a really good view as we drove by LAX. The LA Times has some spectacular photos on their site this morning: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-fire8may09-pg,0,856526.photogallery?coll=la-home-center I really hope that the firefighters get it under control today. TBO used to be a LA City Park Ranger and Griffith Park was her territory so she was telling me about the areas that were burning; she knows them extremely well. She also had been telling me and Pumpkin for some time now that if Griffith Park burned, it would burn spectacularly because the city had stopped the control burns a number of years ago and much of the chapparell hadn't burned in many, many years.