Field of Science

Yay Procrastination!

To reassure the people I know who read this blog, I am actually working quite hard. However I decided to take a bit of time out today to write out my own skippy's list for Lab Rat laboratory work. This is, in effect, the Other Dissertation, based around my project last term. All of them come from things done, or discussed by either me or my fellow student Lab Rat during the project:

Thing’s Lab Rat has learnt in the Lab

1) Bacteria are to be referred to as ‘bacteria’, ‘microbes’ or ‘bugs’ not ‘bloody-minded bastards’
2) Warning labels are to be taken seriously
3) The Bunsen burner is not ‘out to get you’
4) Neither is the autoclave
5) Flame sterilised items remain hot for a while after being taken out the flame
6) If you must sing, sing quietly
7) Stick figures are not allowed on reports
8) Neither are smiley faces or any kind of emoticon
9) The phrase “It’s OK, no one will notice” should NEVER be uttered
10) Your PI can tell the difference between bacteria and fungal contamination
11) The autoclave does not have a mind of its own, and should not be blamed for any contamination
12) Making Darth-Vader breathing sounds while working under the fume hood is not necessary
13) Bacteria are not to be described as evil, no matter how many rounds of mutation they’ve been through
14) Sliding down the corridor is not encouraged, especially when holding plates
15) Juggling of any laboratory equipment should not be attempted
16) There is no such thing as approximate accuracy
17) Repeating an experiment until it gives you the correct results is not proper scientific technique
18) The above rule always applies, no matter how close to the deadline you are
19) Your lab coat is not a trench coat
20) There is a limit to how much glassware can be balanced on top of a lab book
21) ‘Bench space’ should not be an oxymoron
22) COSHH stands for ‘control of substances hazardous to health’, attempts to pretend it stands for anything more obscene are in bad taste
23) Molten agar does not remove fingerprints
24) The UV light should not be used for tanning [just for the record, this was never tried, only half-jokingly discussed]
25) The bacteria are not your minions, and should not be referred to as such.
26) Maniacal laughter is not encouraged
27) Thanking God in three different languages is not necessary, no matter how wonderful your results turn out to be
28) The computers are to be used for analysing data, not reading webcomics
29) The above rule applies even if the webcomic in question mentions bacteria
30) Many things in the lab sometimes produce smells of burning. This is no cause for total panic
31) Neither plates, nor agar bottles have the capacity to move on their own
32) Lab reports need not be written in Iambic Pentameter
33) Mutant bacteria are given numbers, not ‘codenames’
34) X-23 is not a number
35) The words ‘gloopy’ ‘thingy’ ‘unfortunate’ ‘awesome’ and ‘combobulated’ should not be used in scientific reports
36) Plate is not a verb (as in ‘to plate’)
37) Bacteria are killed by autoclaving, not by repeated stabbing with a spreader, no matter how satisfying the latter may be
38) The difference between 10?g and 100?g is not ‘just another zero’
39) Laboratory antibiotics should not be used to heal personal illnesses
40) If the thought of doing something makes you giggle, that thing is probably prohibited within the laboratory

Number 36 came up surprisingly often in my dissertation. "The bacteria were plated onto an agar disk..." "Plate 30 microlitres of bacteria" etc. it just flows so naturally.

Anyway! Back to G proteins...


John Farrell said...

Belated congrats on handing in the dissertation.

Anonymous said...

You know, I'm pretty sure I've seen 'plated' and 'to plate' in bonified publications. I think I'll keep using it even though. After all, convenience leads to most linguistic innovations.

Wait...does the trenchcoat rule mean that pipette tips aren't nerf lasers?

Lab Rat said...

To John: Thanks! It felt good to finally give it in. Just exams left.

To Rhan: It might be allowed in papers, but they were very insistant that we shouldn't use it in our dissertations, which lead to a lot of last minute panicked wails along the line of "How DO we say it then?"

Have you ever used those automatic pipette machines? They look exactly like sci-fi gun/blaster things... *sigh* good times. Can't wait to get back in the lab...

BiochemGirl said...

I should start keeping count of 'times I've worn my lab coat outside the lab and indeed the university' - I think it's up to about six and that includes "I forgot my jacket and it's super cold out" and "Well I am dressing up as a doctor and I DO already have a lab coat, so..."

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