What's Shaking At Pittcon

Bells and whistles sometimes make a difference for a salesperson clinching a sale with a waffling customer. Walking around the expo hall here at Pittcon 2009 in Chicago is no different. I have been hearing one good story after another. I'd say my favorite so far comes from Shimadzu, which has an earthquake sensor on its new AA-7000 series atomic absorption spectrophotometers (one shown). An earthquake sensor, you are thinking; what the heck? Actually, it makes a lot of sense.aa-7000-lr.jpg Atomic absorption spectroscopy involves aspirating a liquid sample containing a metal analyte of interest into a flame, where the sample is atomized and then a light beam passing through the flame to a detector provides the means of identifying and quantifying the metal in the sample. Shimadzu is a Japanese-based company, and Japan is a land of earthquakes and tsunamis (the Shimadzu Scientific Instruments division is based in Columbia , Md., however). So what would happen to an open flame fueled by a flammable gas during an actual earthquake? Well, potentially the same thing as a ruptured gas main during an earthquake--a big fireball. So the new AA-7000 series, besides being a top-quality set of AA instruments, is reportedly the first to have a sensor that automatically shuts off the flame and gas supply when it feels a little rumble, hopefully keeping flames at bay and not burning down the house.

Author: Steve Ritter

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