My brother is about to become a veterinarian. He has dreamed of this since he was little and has spent the last few months of his life in intensive study. He first earned his Bachelor’s degree in animal science, and then went on to earn a Master’s degree in animal nutrition. For the last two and a half years, he has been dedicated to his studies in veterinary medicine. He loves his work and is really looking forward to graduating. In all his study he has, understandably, spent quite a bit of time looking through a microscope in clean rooms all over campus.

As we were discussing this work and his time studying the interesting things he has been discovering, he told me something that I never would have expected. He told me that his biggest pet peeve was working in rooms that don’t have vibration isolators for their microscopes. It seems that clean rooms are full of vibrations. Most of them are too small for the average person to notice right away, but all of them can be seen and experienced through the lens of a microscope. These very delicate instruments are created to detect every small movement. They are meant to be used in precision work. When even the smallest of vibrations cause the room to tremble, it can be seen through the microscope lens and can cause errors in the various experiments being performed. Since most of these experiments need to be exactly correct, it is imperative that the results be calculated correctly.

It is for this reason that vibration isolators were invented. Vibration isolators are devices which stabilize the necessary equipment against outside vibrations. These devices work mainly by creating a negative stiffness. This negative stiffness keeps the vibrations from reaching whichever piece of equipment the device might be attached to. The negative stiffness is created when the vibration isolators discharge vibrations themselves; these vibrations create a barrier between the equipment and the outside vibrations. The vibrations created by the vibration isolators are so low in magnitude (somewhere between 0.2 hertz and 0.5 hertz) that they cannot be seen or felt by the human body. However, these vibrations are the key to keeping the very sensitive machinery stable enough to take accurate readings from it.

There are two different ways in which vibration isolators work. The first way is to create vibrations in a vertical, or up and down, motion. These sorts of vibrations will help keep the microscope or other piece of equipment still if the room in which it is located is being jarred in a vertical motion. (Most large buildings are meant to have some vertical give to them so that they can withstand the weight of the large numbers of people that work in them.) Vibration isolators also produce small vibrations in a horizontal, or side to side, motion. These types of vibrations help to combat outside vibrations that are caused by wind shaking the building or other factors. While I don’t know everything about vibration isolators, I do know that if I ever feel the need to create my own laboratory where I will be running very precise experiments, it would be a good thing to have them installed.

This is especially true if I plan on building my laboratory on the top of a very large building, where it will be exposed to all sorts of extreme elements. The good news, though, is that I’m not planning on building my own laboratory, so as of right now, I don’t have to worry about pricing vibration isolators. I do have to support my brother, though, as he comes ever closer to reaching his dream of becoming a veterinarian.