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A Chromatographic Odyssey! Your Data is the Epic of the Passage of Molecules

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  • Scott Grossman
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Move over Homer. Your data is the story of an analyte’s odyssey through the chromatograph, and it’s a compelling one! Consider 100 pg of DDT. That mass is tiny, but it produces a big signal on an ECD. But how many molecules of DDT would that mass amount to? It’s roughly 170 billion molecules! That’s a lot, and I guess with a population that size it isn’t surprising that the herd behaves in a Gaussian way. Statistics aside, sometimes I still find myself amazed at how reproducible and normal chromatography is and should be. I think of all those little guys going through the trauma of flash vaporization, and then the long journey through the column, and the final passage through the detector. And somehow, injection after injection, each population manages to do it basically the same way as the last batch. It’s amazing, isn’t it (say “yes” or you’re going to make me start to look weird)? So, how do we read this story to gain a better understanding of our data? Stay tuned...