18 December 2003
OK, this is an experiment. Maybe it will give people (friends, one would hope) an insight into what the hell I am up to, most notably in the field of Chemistry which causes me to do odd things and go to odd places.
I have a job. Not a proper one, as my mum would say, but nonetheless a real, pay you money to work here, kind of job. Huzzah. Until (and probably beyond) March 2006 I shall be looking for the OH radical all over the place. "How?", I hear you ask. Simple. I shall be responsible for the maintenance, operation and upgrade of the FAGE instrument, which uses LIF to detect OH concentrations. Which is what I was doing (kinda) in the lab in Philadelphia, but in future I shall be driving round in a truck and taking measurements in the field. Why? Well, chemically OH is very important in the atmosphere, primarily because it is responsible for breaking down pollutants via
R-H + OH -> H2O + R.
where R can be more or less anything, but in particular tends to be some hydrocarbon (i.e. natural gas, petrol, benzene, dioxins [OK, not a hydrocarbon], nitric acid [not a hydrocarbon either], HFCs and other organic pollutants). R. then reacts with other things (primarily oxygen) and ends up being broken down into mostly CO2 and H2O. This tends to be a good thing. Clearly the amount of reaction occurring depends on the amount of OH present, which is why we want to measure it.
OK, that is what I will be doing in Leeds, and around the country (maybe even the world).
Lets see how long this journal lasts, shall we?