Summer is coming, we must prepare

I am based in the UK. The UK has two very specific properties that I like very much. Firstly, the UK has a climate that for the vast majority of the year could be best described as incredibly and exceptionally okayish. Secondly, we never ever shut up about how occasionally our okayish weather becomes very slightly warm or very slightly cool and when it does we act as though the apocalypse will soon be upon us…

Oh dear god summer is coming, we’re all going to diiiiiiieee!!

1. Get your climate control system serviced NOW

This piece of advice is only to people lucky enough to work in labs with air conditioning systems. These are not always a thing even to people working on temperature sensitive experiments (which to be honest is basically ALL experiments). BUT if you happen to be one of the lucky few with air conditioning systems then now is the time to get them serviced. For the last 9 months they’ve been sitting happily doing practically bugger and the shock of actually needing to cool the air is liable to give them the electronics equivalent of a heart attack.

2. Order supplies in advance

Amazingly people go on holidays over the summer, often to places  where there is even more heat than in mildly warm Britain. This includes the nice support staff that spend all year fielding weird purchasing requests and having to fend up health and safety investigations. So if you are not going away this summer then you might want to plan carefully what you’re going to need because the people that make that happen are going to be sipping cocktails on a beach and selfishly not caring one iota about your un-ordered BSA.

3. Work out how many bits of equipment you can turn off

Turning things off serves two purposes. Firstly less equipment means cooler labs. For reasons that are often not even know to the designers almost all lab equipment kicks out more heat that an Samsung galaxy on charge. Turning it off will make for a cooler lab space, and one with less of a strange out of harmony hum. But secondly you should do it because you know energy saving is a good thing. While it’s always nice to have the company of a Windows default screensaver all day in the lab I’m pretty sure the environment at large would consider it a nice thing to no have to fuel that screen saver for 6 weeks while it’s not being used for science. Your co-workers will understand.

4. Idiot proof your machines

The absolute worse thing over the summer is some idiot accidentally turning off you experiment. Even if you don’t take time off you might turn your back and find someone has turned off your screen saver modelling system. The best thing to do is look at your experiment and label it as much as possible with big signs, and where possible signs covering the power buttons. You can’t be too clear about this so be sure to write the notices in clear simple language – something like “turn this off and DIE” is direct and clear – and add a thank-you if you want to be extra polite.

5. Design an ice cream rota

Those of you still in the labs over the summer are going to need vital summer supplies. This means ice cream or ice lollies. You can’t do science without consuming either weirdly flavoured ice cream or a stick of ice with an almost clinically dangerous amount of sugar in it. But it’s important to make sure that you all pitch in to supplying the lab with this vital supply line.

6. Save work that can be done in the park

We’re currently in early June. You’ve got at least another month before the ‘summer’ starts properly so you have time to start delaying work and moving your schedule around. The best thing to do is to try and put off all your paper work till the summer months when you can go sit in a park to do it. Labs generate plenty of paper work and it’s a lot nicer done in a pleasant park under a tree than it is in a lab or office. Depending on your work you can even take some lab work outside. Sadly, ever since that squirrel took my laser I’ve not been allowed to do lab work outside, especially after all those cats turned up with “cats sux” mysterious burnt into their fur.

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