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A Tale of Space and Time

The Lord of Time looked down upon the blue globe that was planet Earth and turned to his Apprentice.

“When you become a qualified Lord of Time, unlike the life-forms on the planet below, you will be able to range freely in both space and time.

“You must master the skill of finding things that are lost in time – in the same way that Earthlings have to learn to find things that are hidden in three-dimensional space”

The Lord of Time’s Apprentice began to feel uncomfortable as he knew that he was about to be presented with a challenge. The Master’s challenges were always… rather challenging.

“I set you the task to find a single moment in the history of the planet below.”  The Lord of Time snapped his fingers twice in succession. “That represents the one second of time that I want you to find”

The Apprentice, feeling very unsettled, asked for clarification:

“Do I have to locate that second in the whole of eternity?”

The Lord of Time patted him gently on the shoulder and smiled.

“My young friend, I am a reasonable being, so I will tell you roughly where to look. The one second that we are looking for can be found somewhere between 3,170,979 years ago and the present.”

A look of panic appeared on the Apprentice’s face.

“That’s mad! One second is nothing and do you understand that 3,170,979 years ago is a whole million years before the first Hominid appeared on Earth? You’re asking me to do something that is utterly impossible. No one can locate anything so small in something so vast!”

The Lord of Time smiled; impressed by his protégé’s knowledge of Earth’s evolutionary biology.

“Let me tell you something that will make you feel better. Below, on Planet Earth, in the city of Cambridge; humans are working in a laboratory, and, with great skill and patience, are doing something every bit as demanding as the task I have set you. Remember, Humans have only a tiny fraction of the powers that you possess.”

Together, they gazed down into the laboratory and the Apprentice could see this was indeed true.

The Apprentice Lord of Time relaxed slightly and nervously accepted the challenge.

The End

Post script

One second in 3,170,979 years is equivalent to a concentration of 0.01ng/L.

In the Anatune application laboratory, we are currently working on a method for the measurement of cypermethrin in water at this level. We are using a combination of Stir Bar Sorptive Extraction, GERSTEL CIS4/TDU and an Agilent 7000C GC-Triple Quad.

We are not quite there yet – but we are very, very close. To see our results follow this link.

Not bad going for simple Humans!

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact us on +44 (0)1223 279210, or email

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