Unsuccessful lab results

Hello again! Today I spent my morning and afternoon in the lab. I ran a PCR, and analyzed the sample. It did not work. Eliza, the kind graduate student who is teaching me each experiment, said that these results never happen and that she is not sure why it did not work.

I can’t help but think that the poor results were my fault, but then again I don’t know at what point I might have messed up. Working in the lab is very mechanical. Each pipette is designed so that all you have to do is set the number on the top to the amount of liquid that you want, stick a new, clean tip on the end, and push down the top button. The only part of this that requires any thinking is to remember that when you push down the top button you only want to push it down to the first click, not the second. If you push it down further you may have the wrong amount. All of this is very annoying. Sometimes I cannot recognize where the first click is…. and then when I look down at the tip (to try to see if I sucked up any liquid) there are no marks of measurement to verify the amount in the pipette. Also, the measurements that I am working with (usually in micro liters) are so small that each tiny drop is very important, and if there is some liquid left in the tip of the pipette it will make a huge impact on the success of the experiment.

Hopefully I will get better at pipetting. It is really different from the techniques that I was familiar with in Dr. Youngblood’s lab. There we were working with larger portions, and we had to measure the liquids without the aid of a mechanical pipette.

And so I will leave you today with the thought that soon all laboratories will be out-sourced. It will be similar to how you are re-directed to a women in India when you call Verizon with a complaint. The experiments will turn into a type of simplified version of cooking, or even better ‘color-by-number’. It will be as simple having some poor laborer far away from America pick up his mechanical pipette to put X amount of the liquid in the red bottle into another bottle….

We can soon say goodbye to the craftsmanship of scientific laboratories!


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