I've been thinking a bit lately about equipment in the lab that is vital to our work and how best to increase our capacity. Whereas there is no one piece of equipment that would allow us to get the work done we need to, like any lab, there are some we rely on more than others.
That led me to a hypothetical for today. If you lab was on a boat and boat was sinking, what would be the one piece of equipment you would save? For the purposes of this, assume that your fridges and freezers (or whatever you use to store samples) all float so your samples and reagents would be fine. Also, all your data are remotely backed-up (I mean, you're lab is on a boat, ffs), so you wouldn't lose all the data on a computer, for instance. Once on land, you'll need to get your work up and running as fast as possible (proposal deadlines don't wait for you to row back!), so you need the essential piece of equipment that will allow you to do the most while you wait for the insurance company to assess the damages. General consumables are available on land.
What single piece of lab equipment occupies the precious space in the lifeboat that would otherwise be filled by the summer student who you sent to "keep bailing the lab"?