The duck

In a display case in one building at the Dugway Proving Grounds, a U.S. Army facility in the Utah desert that researches ways to protect soldiers against chemical and biological weapons, a rubber duck wearing a gas mask provides a little light-hearted humor in an otherwise serious environment.

CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman visited the Dugway Proving Grounds as part of his Road Trip 2009 project.

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Testing mannequin

At Dugway's Chemical Test Division, mannequins like this are fitted with masks, as well as respirators, so that researchers can create and test environments similar to what soldiers experience in the theater, and determine how various chemical "agents" will perform.

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Two heads

Two mannequin heads in the Chemical Test Division at Dugway. The heads can be fitted with masks and can be used in chemical testing experiments.

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Table of masks

Several masks that are used in chemical agent testing in the Chemical Test Division at Dugway Proving Grounds.

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Swatch cup

This swatch cup device is used to measure the effects of various chemical agents on swatches of cloth that soldiers wear in an attempt to determine how the clothing will hold up in the face of different kinds of chemicals.

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Swatch cup schematic

A schematic that shows how the swatch cup is put together.

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Inside the swatch cup

Looking down into the swatch cup, it is possible to see one of the swatches of clothing.

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Roomful of gas chromatographs

A roomful of gas chromatographs in the Chemical Test Division at the Army's Dugway facility. The devices are used to detect chemicals in amounts as small as parts per billion.

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Closeup of gas chromatograph

A closeup look at one of the gas chromatographs.

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Cancer-suspect agent

Signs like this one, which warn of the potential for "cancer-suspect" agents, can be found throughout the Chemical Test Division at Dugway, though personnel there say that such agents are almost never in evidence, in large part because they concentrate very heavily on safety at the facility.

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Do not enter

This "Do not enter" sign is put up on the door of a bioholding room in which biological "agents" are transferred as part of the research that goes on at Dugway Proving Grounds.

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Containment Aerosol Chamber

A sign that explains what happens in the Containment Aerosol Chamber at Dugway Proving Grounds. The CAC is used to disperse live aerosols to "challenge" biological detectors.

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BL3 sign

A sign explaining "Biological Safety Level 3," or BL3, the most dangerous level that researchers at Dugway Proving Grounds generally work at. BL3 agents are potentially lethal and anyone working with them must take extremely serious safety precautions.

In addition, only those who have undergone significant training can work in BL3 areas.

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A batch of simulant

In a Biological Safety Level 2 lab, scientists grow a batch of Erwinia Herbicola, a plant bacteria that is a simulant of a dangerous pathogen, but which itself is not dangerous.

Scientists will start with small amounts of the simulant in beakers, and expand it through several steps into 150 liter containers.

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Making lots of simulant

A 14-liter fermentation tank used to grow simulant that biological researchers can use to analyze how various pathogens may perform in the field.

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Electron Microscopy

A sign explaining the electron microscopy lab in the Biotechnology lab at Dugway Proving Grounds.

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SEM microscope

A scanning electron microscope, which can magnify organisms from 1,000 to 10,000 times their actual size.

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TEM microscope

One of Dugway's transmission electron microscopes, which can magnify organisms from 10,000 to 100,000 times their original size.

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Containment Aerosol Chamber

The Containment Aerosol Chamber, in which researchers can study the dispersal of vials of biological agents in a safe and controlled environment.

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Critical Reagent Program

The logo of the Critical Reagent Program, under which the Army is attempting to create standards for testing various biological "agents" across various Department of Defense organizations.

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Mustang Village

Mustang Village, a small fabricated "town" that was built on one edge of the Dugway Proving Grounds. The village is used to simulate responses to chemical or biological attacks on various kinds of normal buildings, such as a hotel, a post office or a store.

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