Helium and Nitrogen

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Submitted by Emily Miraldi of the White Laboratory at the Koch Institute

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Emily Miraldi
White Laboratory, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT
Oil on Canvas

"Positive lab culture fuels scientific discovery.  Here, in response to news that our adviser received tenure, we use the mass spectrometry lab’s helium tanks to blow up balloons to fill our adviser’s office.  The site of exacting scientific labor becomes the launch ground of a surprise celebration.  A post-doc carries balloons out of the laboratory door, which is conveniently propped open by a green test tube rack.  Fifty-milliliter-Falcon tubes filled with water serve as balloon weights.  A nitrogen tank sits in the foreground, the single white line routing nitrogen gas from the tank, through ceiling, and to a mass spectrometer, which, hidden from view, quietly analyzes signals from cancer cells."