Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

Sabbaticals Day #2 – Separating Liquids!

Wonder what I did for today’s Sabbaticals programme? It’s pretty fun and so please read on =)

The very first thing we did today is culturing bacteria in a petri dish with agar [ae-gaar] (not the Malay type of agar-agar [ah-gaar, ah-gaar]). We’re told to culture E. Coli, which is commonly found in faeces (in other words, human shit). Hmm, thinking that I’m culturing bacteria found in my own faeces is really gross. *Yikes!* I pray that none of them escaped from the beaker and went into my mouth.

People culturing E. Coli in the Laminar Flow Hood

We got a chance to use the Laminar Flow Hood, which one costs at least $5,000. Culturing bacteria in there is really fun =) Wow, I can’t imagine what should I do if I screw up that thousand dollar machine!

We actually placed our extracted plant metabolites(crude and not yet refined) in the cultured petri dish. Hope that our plant extract would have anti-bacteria properties, which would create a clear zone around it! Hope that the results tomorrow would prove that our plants do have anti-bacterial properties! The picture of the left is our plant extract, the left one is mashed with mortar while the other one is hand shredded (very tiring…)

Secondly we did liquid-liquid separation. A pretty fun and exciting process, as when we pour ethanol (non-polar) into the solution containing hexane (VERY flammable *evil grin* and is polar) and extracted metabolites from our selected plant. After mixing them we have to shake the flask, which would explode under high pressure (some reaction must be going on inside the fragile glass container). So the picture on the left shows Yanmin opening the tube to release some air pressure.

The liquid is separated as they have different polarity. So we are asked to collect the liquid separately, dripping the liquid at the bottom drop by drop into the beaker! How exciting as we feared that the hexane which is above ethanol would also seep into the beaker, which we need to do the entire thing ALL OVER AGAIN!

At last, we who had lady luck with us throughout the experiment, finished separating polar and non-polar metabolites. Phew… a few groups accidentally mixed both solution up and they are asked to do all over again. Poor thing!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post… it’ll get more interesting!

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