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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