Smaller and smaller. That’s what’s happening to the gear we use on Lab Without Walls expeditions.
- Over the last four years, our Lab-in-a-box has dropped its weight from over 150kg to less than 50kg. We’re now able to do more with less.
- With our colleagues in Sri Lanka, we’ve gone from 1 assay to 6 and then to 30 in two year jumps.
- The technology is moving ahead even faster. In future we expect to be able to do even more, with less of the heavy lifting.
- So what can we get into the box now?
- Actually, it’s not one box, or even a collection of boxes.
- It all fits into a suitcase. One single, standard suitcase.
- Of course, there is more to shipping a molecular biology lab round than engaging a courier company.
- More than cramming a bundle of delicate medical equipment items in a trunk.
- The makers of the equipment understand this. Their demonstration units criss-cross Australia in purpose-built freight containers with high density packing, cushioned against bumps and bangs. but the outback demands more.
- So every item needs polythene wrapping. The fine red dust and delicate electronics don’t make good partners.
Kitchen shrink. Clearly, there have to be concessions. Travelling light means throwing out the kitchen sink. And a few other items, like the heavier molecular biology platforms. So, high throughput processing, large volume runs and other reference lab functions have to be left on the back burner, beside the kitchen sink. Small is beautiful, as the man said. And you can still cook up a pretty impressive camp meal on a tiny stove.
Paired back to its minimum. Even the team has shrunk to suit road conditions during the National Science Week roadshow