Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

I had a bad headache at work yesterday and it's clear mistakes are made when distracted. In this case I was running digested vector and DNA out on a gel to purify them. When I looked at the samples there didn't seem to be a band for the DNA in my vector digest so i threw it in the ethidium bromide cookie jar. Then I realised an empty vector wouldn't have the DNA in as that's what I was attempting to make. So i fished the gel back out the trash (don't worry it was at the very top) and cut out the digested vector bands.

I then decided to take a lunch break in the hope my head would clear up.

The headache didn't clear up but, when I got around to the ligation, I realised I should have cut another two bands out of the gel as well. There was no going back to that gel as I had already eviscerated it.

Guess I'll be repeating that one again. My headache seems to have gone so any additional cock-ups are solely due to ineptitude.

Friday, 22 March 2013

put that in your Pi(pe) and smoke it

"Person of interest" is a show i find quite enjoyable. It doesn't have much to do with biology and a lot to do with a crime fighteer kicking-butt based on numbers a super computer gives him. I recently caught an episode which has an excellent answer to the "what's this useful for?" question that science teachers are frequently confronted with.

That's a pretty good come back, It also reminds me of the creative license that infinite provides. Somewhere in Pi is the conclusion of "A Song of Ice and Fire".
And this post.
And the next one.

Yo Mama

Zach Wiener posted some excellent "yo mama" jokes for nerds. The full list is here but I'll quote the two biology ones.

"Yo mama's skin is so lumpy, the bacteria on it experience allopatric speciation"


"Yo mama's so scientifically illiterate she thinks ATP is where an indian live"

I'll try and think of one of my own but ATP sets a very standard.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Harry Bioblogist and the time-travelling Gilson

I had a very odd dream the other day, suggesting I'd possibly been working too hard or not doing enough non-science things. It went a bit like this;

I was in the lab and discovered that my Gilson pipette could allow me to travel through time.

I guess if the "Doctor Who" franchise had a timelord called "the scientist" (would probably make a fun villain) instead of a "sonic screwdriver" he'd have a "temporal pipette".
There were rules to this time machine though. Instead of measuring out volume in microliters it measured time in years. It was a P1000 so it meant I had a thousand years to play with. Where the dream became dull (and indicative of too much work) was that rather than use it I thought about how I could use it. The assumption in the dream was that it would take you to any time from 0-1000AD. I was hesitant to use it, as I'd have got trapped in the past, but now I'm thinking the tip-ejecting button would return you to the present.

Anyway it seemed like a fun idea and possibly a bit too science oriented for a mainstream audience. If this was to be adapted into a "major" series. The temporal pipette would work as follows.

1) Set the date by setting the "volume"
2) Travel back in time by pressing the suction button in
3) Return to the present by pressing the "eject" button.

Alternatively for more flexibility the 0-1000 setting just represents the years travelled. pressing the suction in (after setting the time) goes backwards and pressing eject lets you go forward.
Clearly there's be a huge advantage in tracking down the P2000, P200 and P10s as they would give a larger range and allow for much more specific travel.

What other lab equipment could have magical sci-fi powers?

If a centrifuge was big enough and you could climb into it I'm sure it could spin you into another dimension. MASSIVE DISCLAIMER - DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME OR IN THE LAB.