Hetcher, week of April 18

Our work this past week has primarily concerned the development of laboratory skills, particularly using the glovebox. Growing acquainted to hampered dexterity while making solutions of specific molality has been the biggest challenge this week, and I’m excited about the opportunity to only get less clumsy. That being said, I did make two solutions of 0.035 molal TbaTF in 1-octanol, successfully. These, along with two analogous solutions made by Chris, will be used in an attempt to replicate data found by Professor Fleshman. As I understand it, if we can attain precise enough data, we’ll be deemed able enough to continue working with her and her laboratory equipment. As I’m typing, the first of my samples is being run through conductivity measurements, and should be ready to clean shortly. The following step will be density measurements.

The other task assigned to us this week was to continue attempting to grasp the CAF. Talking through it last week helped keep it fresh in my mind, and I again came away with a slightly more thorough understanding, this time in the workings of the scaling process. It appears that this, the least intuitive part of the CAF to me, is perhaps the most integral. It seems to act almost as a sort of normalization constant, creating observable values for the theory it describes. As I become more familiar with the intricacies of the CAF,  I only seem to have more questions about its application and implications. If the temperature dependence of conductivity better explains ion transport, are there other such dependencies that were assumed negligible, but aren’t? Maybe there are further biological applications. Can we observe the same effect on a much more macroscopic scale, planetary, even? Would such a scale be inexplicable by the CAF, and if so, how can we determine the parameters of such a limitation?

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