Experimental costs

Low temperature experiments are very expensive to run. That’s why we need such large grants to do research for a 2-3 year project. Just considering Liquid Helium alone:

I run the fridge about 2 times a month, and I use about 150L of LHe4 each time. Liquid Helium costs about £5 a litre. I also run the Continuous Flow 4.2K experiment quite often, which is about another 50-100L per month. That’s almost £2000 a month just on Helium for 2 experiments. This is why I wish I was a theorist sometimes. I could buy a really neat pencil and some very executive ‘backs of envelopes’ for that. j/k of course 😉

But you can start to see where all the money goes. Helium is usually considered before any of the equipment, maintenance, and technician costs…

If you’ve ever wondered what 150L of Liquid Helium looks like, wonder no more!
It looks like this:



4 thoughts on “Experimental costs

  1. rrtucci says:

    Doesn’t more modern (Scottish?) equipment try to seal the He4 in.

  2. physicsandcake says:

    We do recover and recycle all our Helium 4 (well, not technically 100% as there are always some losses) but the cost is in the liquifying, which we do on-site.

  3. Dave Bacon says:

    Helium always makes me think of http://www.strindbergandhelium.com/

    According to those costs you should consider Helium an honorary graduate student. Make it pass it’s qualifying exam and all 🙂

  4. quantummoxie says:

    You might appreciate the latest Pearls Before Swine, though, of course, the whole tenure process is somewhat unique to North American universities. Disregarding the money, it points to why I occasionally dream about being an experimentalist…

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