Warhorse

Our new endeavor has been going for the past six months or so and a lot has changed from my old position.  Different company.  Different lab.  Different projects.  Lots of change.
Yet, some things stay the same.  Molecular biology is still the same – just different arrangements of A, G, C, and T really.  And running assays is more or less the same — add this to that, vary this other thing, see what happens.  Certainly, technology has changed over the couple of decades I’ve been doing this science thing.  The advent of the internet means no more hours in the science library.  Miniaturization lets you use less stuff per experiment (saving money or letting you do more experiments) and of course, computational power and data storage capacity has increased by orders of magnitude.  
But I realized the other day, that one computational aspect of my professional life hasn’t changed AT ALL since 1983.  When I was a freshman in college, I needed a scientific calculator and so went off to Radio Shack (there were no Best Buys or Targets) and got the solar-powered calculator shown below.

Remarkably, this calculator has survived undergrad classes, and literally dozens of lab benches and desks throughout grad school, my post-doc and professional science career.  At every change, it’s been packed into a box and unpacked in its new home.  It’s had coffee and solvents (and probably worse) spilled on it, the keys are smudged, the spaces between them pretty grimy and the front scratched from countless drops and bangs.  It’s older than some people that read this blog.
My cell phone seems to give out right after its contract is up, but this guy chugs on. :)

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15 thoughts on “Warhorse

  1. Oh, I love this. :DI still use the same calculator I've used since I believe 10th grade. I think I'll cry if I ever lose it–but I know that bad boy will never die on me.

  2. I think it has lasted because it's solar powered. Batteries destroy a lot of electronic stuff. I had a camera die on me last year and when I bought the new one it said in the manual not to leave the battery in it. I never knew that. That's awesome that you have kept up with it that long!

  3. Mine is also from my days in high school, and I love it. I do have to bang it around every once in a while to get the number to show up properly, but a good whack every couple of months and it is happy. I did get a fancy Ti-85 back when I started college, but I never got "into" it. It sits virtually brand new in a drawer in my office at home. I still like the cheapo Casio at work.

  4. "The advent of the internet means no more hours in the science library. " I was fortunate that my first stint in grad school was right on target with the Net…though then with dial-up, I would be downloading, go put a load of laundry onto wash, walk back to the PC and jiggle the mouse (or it would freeze up and stop downloading), start dinner, etc. 2nd stint, 3rd stint, it rocked.LOL with the calculator – I agree! I JUST this week updated to a new phone. I hung onto my old Samsung from 2007 as long as I could but it was lagging in the text messaging dept. Though I do not do much texting or even talking on the phone, Masha will text me now and then. Being a cheapskate that I am, it is Masha's phone from last year. Still a Samsung. I have found they last, and hold the charge the best.

  5. I still have my calculator from HIGH SCHOOL. It is an HP, and is not solar powered, but I haven't even had to change its batteries.It is sitting on my desk now, and still gets used.How is that possible?And when did I get so old?

  6. B — I actually miss the weekly trip to the library sometimes. There was a singularity of purpose that was good — and the enforced quiet made you keep your thoughts to yourself. Now, literature searches are just one of several things to juggle in this multi-tasking environment.

  7. Heh, back when Radio Shack was a respectable source for electronic repair parts, rather than a mobile phone outlet. We still have several calculators from the 1980s, all solar powered, I believe.

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