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The Beast of Norwich

Having trained the Beast in my own laboratory to carry out the tasks I wished him to perform, I set out with some trepidation, on an expedition to the City of Norwich where the monster had been rehoused.

My task was to train his new masters and to ensure he would carry out the tasks he was bred for. This monster was nearly twice the size of the usual animals that I had worked with before and he would test my skills as a trainer.

I met his new keepers in their laboratory where the creature now lives and we went through the software they would use to control the Beast (Agilent Masshunter and GERSTEL Maestro). With these programmes they could get the Beast completing the tasks they required him to perform.

The Beast can carry out all of the following separate tasks on his new masters’ samples:

  • Move liquids and vials from one place to the other
  • Vortex
  • Heat
  • Agitate
  • Evaporate
  • Derivatise
  • and Extract

He can perform these tasks tirelessly and without error.

The only questions remaining were – could he perform all of these tasks together and would he obey the commands of his new masters?

I translated his new keepers ideas from the page to the Beast, using the Maestro software. We pressed go and stood back to see whether we had the Beast trained well enough.

As meek as a lamb, the Beast took each sample and with each one it carried out:

  1. A saponification
  2. A liquid-liquid extraction
  3. Evaporated of each extracts to dryness
  4. Derivatisation of the contents of the vial to give the final analysis solution
  5. It then injected this vital fluid into its own heart (an Agilent 7890 /5977 GC/MS)

More seriously…

The Beast was the affectionate name given to the largest Gerstel MPS2 dual rail robotic system Anatune had ever designed and built.



This fully automated analytical system performs repeated complex preparation and analysis of samples and generates high quality results that are good enough for inclusion in metabolomics data sets.

The Beast was equipped with a GERSTEL mVap (an evaporator using heat, vacuum and agitation), an mVorx (a high speed vortex mixer), a refrigerated tray (capable of temperatures as low as 1°C), an agitator (temperature controlled agitation) and a CF200 centrifuge.

The Beast’s new home is the John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich, UK and he runs samples that are part of their on-going metabolomics studies.

There is only one Beast and so his new keepers at the JIC have kindly agreed to allow members of the public to visit and marvel at the tricks this animal has been trained to do.

To take advantage of this unique opportunity, call us on +44 (0) 1223 279210 or email  and we will be delighted to arrange a demonstration.

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