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Place where scientific research and development is conducted and analyses performed, in contrast with the field or factory. Most laboratories are characterized by controlled uniformity of conditions (constant temperature, humidity, cleanliness). Modern laboratories use a vast number of instruments and procedures to study, systematize, or quantify the objects of their attention. Procedures often include sampling, pretreatment and treatment, measurement, calculation, and presentation of results; each may be carried out by techniques ranging from having an unaided person use crude tools to running an automated analysis system with computer controls, data storage, and elaborate readouts.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on laboratory, visit Britannica.com.