In the Summer of 2000 I booked some burn time at a small environmental lab in south Dallas. The facility was not exactly state-of-the-art, but the price was right: $300 a burn. It sure beat paying about $4,000 a burn at an NRTL at the time. For 300 bucks, you got the chamber, a methane line burner connected by a hose to a big tank of methane gas, and a technician who would manually operate the whole thing from an adjoining isolated room. A fire extinguisher was always ready “just in case”.
Rising above the tidal marshes of Southern New Jersey stands a red and white antenna tower shadowing a World War II era radio shack. The marsh was a simple mosquito nursery in the 40s when the first modest building—a cinder block foundation and stick-framed walls— was erected as part of a string of radio stations that formed a wartime network on the East Coast. German subs prowled the waters just off the shore of Cape May which hosted just a few houses and one general store with peeling gray paint and sway-back roofline.