Tuesday, 20 September 2011

09:37 – If I were subject to fits of giggling, I might have been incapacitated at the statement by a European authority the other day that the EU and the euro were “running out of time”. Technically, that’s true, as it would be for someone who fell from the top of the Empire State Building and has just passed the first floor, going down. Now all anyone can do is watch the catastrophe unfold, like a not-so-slow-motion train wreck. Using the standard calculation method based on CDS prices, the probability of a Greek default is now about 120% (yes, I know…) CNN Money currently estimates Greek default probability at 0.999, with Portugal at 0.62, Ireland at 0.51, Italy at 0.33, and Spain at 0.28. Of course, those last four probabilities are based on current conditions. Once Greece defaults, the probabilities for defaults by Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain skyrocket as the dominoes begin toppling. The euro, and almost certainly the EU itself, are deader than Python’s Parrot.

I just issued a purchase order for most of the components I need to build the first dozen biology kits. The contents of the kit are not yet finalized, but here’s where they stand as of now.

Reagents and Stains

Acetic acid, 6 M
Agar, 10 g
Antibiotic sensitivity test paper, 5×5 cm, amoxicillin
Antibiotic sensitivity test paper, 5×5 cm, cephalexin
Antibiotic sensitivity test paper, 5×5 cm, ciprofloxacin
Antibiotic sensitivity test paper, 5×5 cm, metronidazole
Antibiotic sensitivity test paper, 5×5 cm, tetracycline
Ascorbic acid
Barfoed’s reagent
Benedict’s reagent (qualitative)
Biuret reagent
Bromothymol blue
Dextrose (d-glucose)
Hydrochloric acid
Lead(II) acetate
Methyl cellulose, 1.5%
Resorcinol, 1% (Seliwanoff’s reagent part A)
Sodium hydroxide
Stain: Eosin Y
Stain: Gram’s Iodine
Stain: Hucker’s Crystal Violet
Stain: Methylene Blue
Stain: Safranin O
Stain: Sudan III
Stain: Toluidine Blue


Beaker, PP, 100 mL
Beaker, PP, 250 mL
Beaker, PP, 50 mL
Centrifuge tubes, 50 mL (6)
Chromatography paper (8.5×11” total)
Cover slips, glass, 22x22mm (oz.)
Graduated cylinder, 10 mL
Graduated cylinder, 100 mL
Inoculating loop
Petri dish, PS, 90x15mm, two-compartment, sterile, pk/10
Pipettes, PE, graduated
Reaction plate, 24-well w/ lid
Reaction plate, 96-well
Slide, deep single cavity, glass, 1”x3”, bx/12
Slide, flat glass, frosted, 1”x3”, bx/72
Stirring rod
Teasing needle, bent
Teasing needle, straight
Test paper, pH
Test paper, phenylthiocarbamide (PTC)
Test tube brush
Test tube clamp
Test tube rack
Test tubes, 16x100mm (6)

The resorcinol item deserves comment. Originally, I intended to include a bottle of Seliwanoff’s reagent, which is a dilute solution of resorcinol in fairly dilute hydrochloric acid. Instead, I’m going to include an aqueous solution of resorcinol and have kit users make up their own Seliwanoff’s reagent from the resorcinol and hydrochloric acid.

I’m doing it that way because the paragraph 173.4 “small quantity exemption” regulations allow me to ship small quantities (no more than 30 mL or 30 g) of most hazardous chemicals without paying hazardous material shipping surcharges. But the rules are written strangely. For example, I could ship 30 mL of concentrated (12 molar) hydrochloric acid under SQE in one 30 mL bottle, but if I diluted that 30 mL of concentrated HCl with 30 mL of distilled water and put that 60 mL of 6 M HCl in a 60 mL bottle (or two 30 mL bottles), that package could no longer be shipped under paragraph 173.4, and kit buyers would have to pay a $30 hazardous shipping surcharge.