One of the wonderful things about being at a university like the ANU is the access to all the facilities across campus. If you don’t have a piece of equipment you need, it is very likely that someone else does, and if not (heaven forbid), we have people that will build it for you. (I recently asked the workshop if I gave them the specs for a beautiful danish designed chair could they build that? Apparently there is a big difference between “could” and “would”). People in paleoclimate research love to mill things: corals, spelotherms, teeth, you name it and we’ve probably tried to drill a hole in it. The difficulty comes when you have something that you want to shave very small increments off, as in microns, and you are not following a straight line. Enter the computer controlled micromill.
As it happens the Research School of Biology happens to have a great set up and if I bribe the right people with coffee they let me use it. So yesterday I sat with the manual and tried to program my tiny little tracks into the carbonate fractions of my deep-sea coral, and today I actually got it to work! So 60 tiny little tracks later I have all the samples I need for more radiocarbon analyses, so many samples, so_very_many. Oh yes and I programmed it to etch my initial into the top of a sample, come on you have to let me see just what the equipment can do….right?