I’d like to nominate MacGyver as the patron saint of noble gas thermochronology labs. I had originally thought that perhaps he could represent all labs, and perhaps I need to expand my definition, but I have my reasons. Let me explain. For those of you who don’t know, MacGyver was one of the greatest television action heroes/good guys of all time. Like most TV heroes, he almost never failed, but what made him unique were three important characteristics.
1. He hated guns. Except in one early episode, he never touched them. This leads directly to point number 2, but also explains why my mom let me watch the show. I like this, noble gas thermochronologists are a peace loving bunch.
2. “Mac” was resourceful, and often called upon his vast background in “science” and “engineering,” crafting weapons, picking locks, breaking through security systems, opening doors, and in general saving the world using his Swiss Army Knife, duct tape, and whatever pieces of junk happened to be lying around. I’ll get to this later. Oh, and for the record, I don’t care if most of what he did was BS, it was still sweet. And, allegedly the producers made things slightly impossible so stupid kids in places like Sacramento didn’t try to replicate his bombs and booby traps, just an idea.
3. He was supposed to be Canadian. Seriously, how many other Canadian action heroes were huge on American TV? Richard Dean Anderson, the actor who played MacGyver, is a Minnesotan who only took to acting when his hockey career was put on hold, which in my opinion is the best training an American can have for playing a Canadian.
MacGyver is the patron saint of noble gas labs because of his resourcefullness. On TV, MacGyver destroys a laser using smashed up binoculars and cigarettes, plugs a leaking vat of acid with a chocolate bar, and made a bomb out of cold medicine. In the time of need, he has no budget, and has to work with what is around. Doesn’t that sound familiar! How can I fix this with the half broken old lab equipment that is lying around ? I summon my inner MacGyver all the time, clamping together 3 different size KF flanges so I don’t have to order the proper reduction fitting, using the brackets I had made for the pneumatic valves for every structural support need except the pneumatic valves, the old UHV gauge controller with the “warning, may produce lethal shock” sticker that I “rescued” and used for 2 years. The list goes on. Not as impressive as the real MacGyvers, but hey..
Check it out, here he is checking on his LMT heavy fraction. Ooooooh, lots of heavies, yes!
This is when he was trying to figure out which integrated circuit blew during the power outage, man this takes forever. Thank god I have my leather bomber jacket
OK, I think the tube is ready for the reactor. And, let me add, that is obviously a paleontologist in the background, they probably want MacGyver to tell them how old some ash beds are, that’s all they ever want from us.
Check out my LMT lights, I can totally get enough kspar out of this for an Ar MDD analaysis. But first, let me have a drink from my NHL water bottle, go Sabres!
And he even does field work. On the Colorado Plateau! Must be a detrital zircon thing. Let me guess, there’s a Grenvillian Peak. By the way, polar fleece long before it was popular. Mac was a trendsetter.
So in conclusion I am trying to think of all of the random things that were commonplace in my lab. Aluminum foil, of course, rolls and rolls of Reynolds Wrap, Q-tips, unwaxed dental floss for the cryogenic cold trap, binder clips, balloons, cinder blocks, toothpicks, the little radioactive source from a film duster….Nothing compared to the great one, but a start. I’m interested what other non-traditional lab supplies are in use out there.
And, by the way, his first name was Angus, at least according to the infallible oracle of all knowledge. It only came out in the last episode, the same one where he found out he had a long lost son.