Thrifty Scientists Explore Alternatives To Buying New Tools

In 1984, the department of earth sciences at St. Cloud State University, Minn., was lacking an electron microprobe. At the time, the instrument, used to analyze the com- position of rock samples, was selling for about $200,000. Gary Anderson, a professor in the department, knew that there was no way to justify the expense. "A small department like ours, in a public school such as St. Cloud State, can't afford [to spend that much money] on a single piece of equipment," he says. By being at the

Bruce Silver
Feb 3, 1991
In 1984, the department of earth sciences at St. Cloud State University, Minn., was lacking an electron microprobe. At the time, the instrument, used to analyze the com- position of rock samples, was selling for about $200,000. Gary Anderson, a professor in the department, knew that there was no way to justify the expense. "A small department like ours, in a public school such as St. Cloud State, can't afford [to spend that much money] on a single piece of equipment," he says.

By being at the right place at the right time, however, Anderson managed to acquire--practically free of charge--a 20-year-old electron microprobe, courtesy of the United States Department of Energy (DOE). While on a trip to a DOE facility in Ames, Iowa, Anderson saw that the instrument was on a list of devices available through DOE's Used Energy-Related Laboratory Equipment Grant Program for Institutions of Higher Learning (ERLE)....

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