From Early Alchemy To Magnetic Stirrers: A Look At Lab History

The field of research technology is evolving every day, especially as it pertains to scientific breakthroughs. The modern lab setting, equipped with magnetic stirrers and other automatic, hands-free devices, looks a lot different than the labs of yore — the hallowed places made famous by names like Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur, or Watson and Crick — but of course, that’s just proof of how many strides science has taken (and will continue to take).

As we celebrate the advances of today’s lab — and the ways it has transformed modern medicine, engineering, and so much more — it can be helpful to look back at how we got here, too. Here is a brief look at lab history and the development of one essential tool along the way: the magnetic stirrer.

Lab Safety 101

Ethics and our understanding of scientific safety have developed over time, which is why early scientists — despite their groundbreaking work — didn’t always follow the same lab procedures we would adhere to today. For example, portraits of famous figures in science (like Louis Pasteur) often depict them donning suits and streetwear as they work in the lab, as opposed to protective eyewear and lab coats more commonly associated with scientific research. Incidentally, the famous 1885 image of Pasteur shows the scientist attempting to balance both his notes and the subject of his research — whereas today, scientists in labs equipped with 2mag magnetic stirrers can more freely attend to observation without having their hands full.

A Revolution In Mixing

The first patent for a magnetic mixer arrived on the scene by way of Richard Stringham more than a century ago, in 1917. The patent documentation identified the device for the bar, where it could be used to mix drinks like “malted milks” and “egg-nogs.” Of course, in the 100-plus years that followed Stringham’s invention, the use of magnetic stirring became a boon to the scientific community, where it could be used to mix together liquids with a consistent, uniform (and most importantly hands-free) approach. In the last century, the magnetic stirrer has become a pivotal part of the lab routine — allowing scientists to freely test a variety of liquids without the complication of moving parts or unintended interference in the scientific process.

Meet The Flea

Eventually, the magnet component of a magnetic stirrer came to be known as the “flea,” a nod to its fast, sometimes jumpy movement upon stirring. Today’s magnetic stirrers, of course, are built to handle high speeds and liquids of all types without being quite as unpredictable as the tiny, pesky insect — but of course, the nickname has stood the test of time.

The Future Of Magnetic Mixers In The Lab

From the earliest days of science to today’s breakthrough discoveries, the world of laboratories has evolved over time — and will continue to do so every day! At 2mag, we are extremely proud to be part of the scientific discoveries and exciting, essential lab work happening across the globe. Of course, we will be here to help supply today and tomorrow’s labs with the technology they need to test, observe, and experiment with ease.