An American Physiologist Abroad - continued...
4. Building the perfect laboratory
When Benedict undertook his first tour of European laboratories, the primary goals of his travel were clear:
“In making this tour, the first thought was to secure all possible suggestions regarding the interior equipment of laboratories especially fitted for investigations in metabolism, calorimetry, and physiological chemistry. The second important commission was […] to become familiar with all existing apparatus for studying gaseous exchange, animal calorimetry, and general methods of research into human and animal nutrition.” (Benedict, vol. 1, p. 1)
Benedict described in great detail the set-up of these laboratories, directing his attention at seemingly trivial points such as the placement of water faucets and gas cocks, the materials covering tables and floors, the arrangement of cupboards, drawers and workspaces, that find little mention in most laboratory descriptions but can greatly affect the flow of experimentation. Significantly, he did not aim to model his new laboratory in Boston on any particular European lab, but instead viewed as many alternatives as possible, in order to combine them into an ideal nutrition laboratory. Creating the best laboratory for metabolism research in the world could only be done on the basis of the most suitable equipment and design, and Benedict visited these labs with the intention of collecting the best ideas, to realise them in one place, in a building still under construction.
Reference: Elizabeth Neswald. 2010. An American Physiologist Abroad: Francis Gano Benedict’s European Tours. The Virtual Laboratory (ISSN 1866-4784), http://vlp.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/references?id=art77&page=p0005