When I was a graduate student in the mid-1990s, hot plates were, well, hot. You might even say they were fire hazards. Nowadays they can be intelligent, too. The Barnstead RT Elite Stirring Hot Plate (Fisher catalog #11-400-023, $924) can heat to 350° C in 0.1-degree increments; features separate LCD displays for temperature, speed, and time; alerts you if the temperature of the plate rises above some fixed value; and features a port that can output data to an attached computer.

In other words, things have changed since I was a grad student, I've learned, as I help my wife thumb her way through the Fisher catalog. (You'll recall from last month's column that she's setting up a new lab at Idaho State University.) She's using Fisher's 2,654-page 2006-2007 catalog as a source for many of the basics - pH meters, vortexers, and so on.

Here are some of my...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!