Enex Labs

Open Source Science

The state of finding lab-space for lab equipment.

Posted by nxcng on March 2, 2010

So i have pretty much abandoned the idea of moving my lab into a new house. However i believe this is for the better and will bode well for the community at large. Let me explain.

Previously i had written about JigSaw Renaissance, a recent non-profit which has sprung up in Seattle dedicated to “DIWO” (do it with others) for the integration of art and technology into society. Right now the base of JSR is in a small loft of a workshop with only enough room for meeting and doing some basic electronics work. It is a nice space, but to appeal to the community in a “safe” way  it is sub par. Also it has no lab space. The new space we are looking at has lots of space and is right near down-town seattle! With big open spaces and a few back rooms it will make a perfect base of operations for meetings and collaborations of all types.

In that regard i am trying to move my lab to this place. There will of course be a membership fee for a “perma desk” but that is okay. With the lab being able to be used by other people in both Jig-Saw and in other DIY bio groups it will make it… well.. totally awesome! I will design some methods for using the lab, rules and regulations, and best of all my equipment can be used by many other people who need access.  This might be good!

The space can be checked out here.

If anyone reading this wants to help out in any way let me know!


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A new home.

Posted by nxcng on January 11, 2010

We have been seeking a new home…  Something affordable, close to the ferry boat and work and within the 800 range. Of course we desire the home to have space for a studio / lab… and well, to get a house like that usually costs quite a bit.

TO make things simple we saw a house today for 985 a month that has a HUGE basement and a large upstairs unit. However it needs a lot of work and it would be only a rental. It is a BIT out of our price range, but with some concerted effort the place could become a very good home for me and enex-labs. The basement is very large as i said, with seperate rooms, one of which has a nice door, small windows  at head level and a ceiling, it is large, probably 20 by 10 feet and would make an awesome lab.

We both make enough to pay for the house and utilities but we would not have much left over. The land lord is extremely nice and accommodating, saying that he would pay for anything that needed to be fixed, and the place does need a lot of fixing. The basement had some leaks, today was a very rainy day… That would defiantly need to be taken care of.

I am really trying to figure out a way that this can work… The place is a bit too dirty for abby now, but perhaps that can change.

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What the FUH!

Posted by nxcng on January 10, 2010

Alright here is what is up..

Some paranoid fool called the police on my house and said that there were “marijuana plants entering and leaving the house all morning”, which was a TOTAL LIE. SO the police came with about 20 officers and surrounded the house and came to speak. We told them to come back with a warrant if they wanted to come see the house and then we invited a lawyer to the house. He told us that the county we live in is notorious for getting warrants and trashing peoples houses just to be ass holes so instead i had to take ALL of my lab equipment and lay it out with all of my documents and books related to chemistry. I told the lawyer about my doings and then i had to run to work… Lucky he had an awesome plan.. Rather then waiting for the police to get a warrent and come and break all my lab equipment we invited them into the house to see that there were indeed no marijuana plants on the premise. I was a bit paranoid that they would think i was trying to do something illegal with my lab equipment but the lawyer handled it very well and they simply glanced in my lab and saw no marijuana plants and then left…
PHEW! However, the lawyer told me that if my distillation equipment (boiling flasks and condensers) had residue within them it would have made things a bit more difficult. So for now i am shutting down ENEX LABS until i find a new home…

and speaking of which… I am currently working full time and attending school, so my time is very limited. Also, me and my partner are looking to rent a new place together so my time is pretty short. Things are pretty crazy and we are sleeping at our parents house until we find a new place… I hope that when we find a place the lab can become operational agian.
Until then there is a lot of work to do for school… We are trying to rebuild a custom made sputtering device and also get the SEM working… That will be awesome!

I will be posting more updates.. THe lab is not dead, just shut down for now. IT will be back and finally get rolling.

(p.s never overestimate the intelligence of police officers.. When i was telling them about gold nanoparticles they looked at me like i was a terrorist…)

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Carbon Nanotubes, and exciting prospect.

Posted by nxcng on December 16, 2009

Back in winter of 2008 i wrote a small paper on an emerging company, Carbon Nanoprobes.

I predicited that this company would grow quickly and become adopted into the industry in high volumes by 2011.
At that time Carbon Nanoprobes was nothing more then a great idea in a small office located at the UW’s Center for Nanotechnology. In coming to do some research on the progress of the company over this past year i am very excited to see that Brian Ruby, the CEO, has moved to Pennsylvania and now has 6 employees and is set to grow. This is very exciting for a number of reasons, most important of which is the chance that Carbon-Nanotube (SWNT) based AFM tips will become inexpensive and ubiquitous. This bodes well for all of science, especially for molecular biology and the further progress towards “sensing” the nano domain.

These are the types of seemingly insignificant advances that themselves only effect one industry directly yet have a very large indirect effect on the whole. Be ready to see the effects of these tips reach a journal near you, the ability to imagine and characterize molecules and surfaces  is getting an upgrade.

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Almost Complete.

Posted by nxcng on November 27, 2009

It has been very fun building the lab and now it is nearing completion. I have order a good lot of lab apparatus which should be arriving within the next week, this includes vacuum pumps, Bunsen burners, hot plates with stir, balance, organic chem apparatus (distillation columns and adapters), latex tubing, centrifuge, chromatography columns, cell plates, oven. The equipment will all be inventoried, everything will be inventoried and presented on this blog. Initially i had thought that i might try to build equipment my self, such as blowing glass and the likes, but after research i found that my lab could not economically support both a glass blowing studio as well as any type of experimental activities. I am still open to creating equipment at home, and have plans to attempt to construct various equipment at a later date.

I still need a  good freezer!!!!!

In essence, the lab is approaching the final stages of development. It has changed a lot from my initial plan, all in good ways. It is now much larger and contains a plan for more versatility then the original “cell culture” program i had dreamed up. Once the equiptment is obtained and the final touches are put on the lab i will begin to plan and document the proceedings.

As for reagents and other chemicals / media, they have not yet been purchased or obtained in any way. This means that the lab will not be operational instantly, but that much work will have to be done to obtain via my own efforts, or through purchasing, the chemicals which will be needed.
By mid/early December i will have photos up of the completed lab and also fill out the rest of the description including the experimental goals of the lab… I will mention here that the lab will focus on some sort of nanotoxicology.

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Jig Saw Ren, Community Creation

Posted by nxcng on November 8, 2009

I have heard that in some communist systems it is valuable to have the workers live near where they work.
What is work any ways?

I would like to take a moment to think about individuals and their homes. Some people have shops for various things, each arrangement of objects within the house implies a function, a capacity (think kitchen). It is like a manufacturing entity, or any process entity. Many processing entities are private and rare,very large, and have a significant portion of the “necessary” amount of function for some process (does that make sense to you?).

Moving seemingly jarringly in context, why don’t’ local communities “create” more things in collaboration?
It seems that many forms of “creation” are competitive in some regards.
Any ways, our communities need more public processing systems, shops, labs, facilities, collaborative environments.
We need these environments, and we need to be able to access them for free. That’s the problem though…
To run any process “costs” something, and if you are not getting a “return” which is equal or better then the cost to run a process, then you cannot sustain. It doesn’t always have to be about profit, it can be about balance as well… However some say you must have profit to make balance.

Regardless, it is worth a communally inspired movement of effort to “self fund” such endeavors for the sake of experimentation, at least. What a good use of our time it would be if we did a bit of meeting with other people at a space surrounded by the capacity to create and not just dream. Of course all dreams need a source to come true, be it raw materials or silicon chips and magnetic pole patterns in metal, or vegetables to cook, sugar to add to a baked good, or a body to dance and the fuel to run it… All dreams need a physical form to come to be, all dreams have a cost. It is our tools and human will which allows us to shape that physical form in the shadow of our innovation.

But let us be shrewd in our undertakings and realize that we must look ahead with clarity.
For think of the hurdles that all endeavors encounter and create. Within the “DIY” movement there is much recipe, but to truly research and create is more challenging. To create something unique for ones own specific application require one to in essence be and engineer. Whether you engineer a dance, food, or some robot, it requires a rare skill that takes time to hone, it takes more then following a recipe. When groups are collaborating on projects there can be problems which arise and cause strife. With a limited amount of equipment, and time as well, use of a facility becomes a question of sharing. In essence the Do it with others creation labs will have a chance to epitomize the types of situations which all large systems of processing run into. Time, Cost, Man Power, Interest…. For in a do it with others lab, a collaborative endeavor has a chance to be more complex and in the end more interesting but simply because the facility is “open source” does not mean that the same problems of collaboration will not appear.

In any capacity, it is a great chance to learn to share and work together, to learn to be safe and push the limits of the “general societal” knowledge and function.

What happens when we start functioning for each other, and not for another whom gives us a return that we spend upon static entertainment?

Creating is entertaining!

We are creating a non profit organization here in Seattle called Jigsaw Renaissance, check it out at http://www.jigsawrenaissance.org/


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Lab on a chip, sensory science.

Posted by nxcng on November 4, 2009

There is a very large range of new technologies coming to societies soon which we could get excited about. However  it is important to recognize that because these technologies are not yet mainstream that we are free to find out how they can become mainstream, and that is where we find innovation. This is a subtle and trivial aspect of industry growth… In simple we are still free to blaze a trail into these new industries using the novel features of our new technologies as access points to regions outside of where we have been able to access previously.

An object of considerable potential and importance which would do us well to focus upon with ever increasing attention is the design, theory and construction of mico/nano fluidic “lab on a chip” technologies.
The problems with bringing these lab on a chip technologies into mainstream use do not appear to revolve around problems of construction and design as much as they revolve around human throughput and cost. I have already witnessed working lab on a chip technologies used for a variety of problems. We are at a point where we can give the engineers the problem and some time and they can make something for us. I have seen enough to believe that what is needed for lab on a chip to take off is a standardized library of chip systems to perform exact functions. Once we can standardize this we can make efficient strides in creating an industry capable of producing at an economic rate the products we desire.

The market is very ripe i believe.

One pathway to profit is for investors to choose a single design and invest in heavy production of that. For there are many labs throughout the world studying microfluidics and nanofluidics, lab on a chip systems. However, we must question if all of these labs share a standardized method for the production of specific functions? or do they instead design their own systems for specific and unique goals?
What i have seen is that most labs spend their time improving Lab on Chip devices and creating better systems.

We are playing with something that we have a good enough understanding of to create what we imagine. However our imagination has not yet settled into a standard, but it is fast approaching. Soon the time will be ripe for a standardized function (lab on chip test) to be mass produced at an extremely cheap cost such that the effect had upon industry of relevance to the chip type will be swift.

Consider the hurdles. If we focus only on the medical application of Lab on Chip we can see that there is already a large industry of medical labs which perform many procedures for the medical industry. We must realize that any large scale introduction of lab on a chip technology is going to disrupt an already active industry. We need to consider what incentives we have to disrupt this industry before we can develop a plan to quickly bring lab on a chip to mainstream market.

First we have the private incentive which is purely profit. Any group which can obtain good returns on their lab on a chip investments is naturally inclined to have incentive to do so.
There are also many possible benefit incentives, whereby use of lab on a chip is able to increase the speed and efficiency of medical lab and in return the whole medical industry. With the ability to do more screening and testing for less money and in less time we are also able to obtain more data within a given field. This is very exciting, if you could imagine that people could get “lab work” done in a simple small clinic visits then you can have a very clear picture of the data available within a given area. In essence, one of the prime incentives for large groups to adopt lab on a chip technologies is that it will allow them access to more complete data sets.
This is all very speculative of course, and we say nothing about how it is that Lab on a Chip will actually go mainstream.
For that issue i firmly believe that the best course of action is for small lab on a chip foundries to spring up in hospitals and near small clinics which can produce and keep inventory of the actual “labs on a chip”. Thus, if a local clinic wants to do some special order lab work they can contact the local lab on a chip foundry and tell them what they need, whereby the technicians in that lab will look up the needed chip in a data base and fabricate it on the spot for use by the medical worker. Or, if the medical worker needs a standard chip for blood tests they can be relieved to know that the local lab has plenty of those stocked… The medical worker may even have some on hand in his office ready to use.

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Construction under way, progress being made.

Posted by nxcng on October 27, 2009

Since the start of October construction has been under way and is nearing completion. Soon the primary facilities will be completed and next I will need to stock the lab with the equipment it needs to run.

I have begun construction of 20.5 feet of lab bench space with cabinetry for plenty of storage. The inline blower for the clean room has been obtained and ducting is now needed. More shelving for the clean room needs to be obtained.

The lab is looking very good… slowly. The main counter tops are created and the drawers and cabinets need to be finished (they are being put together during this time).
I also obtained roughly 50 rubber stoppers of various sizes along with two pipets of 2ml and 10ml max capacity.
Also i have accumulated a set of glass containers for dry reagent storage and will obtained sealed bottles for liquid reagents soon.

All in all, I am ahead of schedule but monetary considerations will cause a momentary stall in purchasing new materials.

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The dynamics of real nanosystems.

Posted by nxcng on October 22, 2009

The technology of the small.
There are a variety of things that we should consider in our pursuit of nanotechnology. The first being how can nanotechnology help us better the precision of scientific pursuit.  We should ask ourselves in what way can we use nanotechnology to obtain better scientific data? Each form and energetic display brings with it data, even if that data is within our hypothesis and model. To say that a diatomic molecule behaves a specific way through theory enough that the reality of that molecule can be manipulated with certainty by following theory is not to say that theory it self cannot become more accurate and precise. Consider the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to produce water. Tell me where i can find data observed from the reaction of only two hydrogen and one oxygen within a vacuum and i will be satisfied. It has been my experience that individual systems such as that have not been studied with physical experimental evidence.

So consider how nanotechnology can increase our understanding of nature.
I imagine that we can create experimental apparatus with nanostructures and that through this we will increase the sensitivity of our experimental apparatus as well as the scientific throughput of laboratories. The benefits of this are a topic which is in need of discussion by people whom have a very thorough understanding of molecular modeling. It is quite interesting to observe the scale of amount of substance that concerns the attention of scientific and technological pursuits in all of it’s vast range. Perhaps it is only a shift in perspective of scale. Then again, this is no novel thought and if one looks at a good collection of research laboratories across nations we find many groups creating systems to extract useful data from very small samples, as in lab on chip technologies. In essence, there should be a continued decrease in size of both scientific apparatus (volumes and procedures of environmental control) and scientific technology (tools to characterize).

There must be a thorough pursuit to study in relentless detail the empirical form of sensed data which can be collected from nano-scale systems.

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The Founding of Enex Labs

Posted by nxcng on October 15, 2009

Starting on 10/15/09, Enex Labs has officaly gone open.
The Lab is currently under construction but all progress will be documented here for everyone to read (and also to keep a journal of the work). Hopefully the main facilities will be completed by the end of 2009 and then we can start to do lab work! Please check out the about page to learn more about the project.

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