Monday, 28 January 2013

When lab meetings go well

Had to give a lab meeting this morning which meant a decent chunk of the weekend was spent preparing one. This was particularly difficult as I feel like most of my projects aren't really going anywhere and the fly side of things feels reminiscent of the phrase "throw enough 5h!t at a wall and something will stick" but with a frictionless wall.

Anyway, I decided to tell things as they are and suggest I should maybe focus more on tissue culture for the time being as that has the greatest potential of turning into a paper at the moment. The flies can come into it later once the biochemistry gives me some targets to home in on.
The great thing about the meeting is that the rest of the lab were keen to offer suggestions and help with various experiments that should move the cell culture along and I came out of the meeting with at least 3 experiments to do and a plan of action to keep me busy for the next month. One good thing about being the "fly guy" in a lab of tissue culture and biochemists is that there is a lot of knowledge to draw from.

It's always a good meeting when you walk into it on a low and come out of it, enthusiastic about beating the project over the head in a variety of (hopefully) productive ways. Thanks to the PI and the rest of the lab :)

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Sometimes you have to be really careful labelling things.

There were two events at work today where I realised you have to be really careful when writing things down. the first was fairly innocent. I was using primers for PCR. One of the ones I wanted was "NJP082" but that's a squeeze to write on the top of an eppendorf so I settled for "82". Unfortunately I then discovered a "28" and I don't numerically categorize the diluted oligos...

I will try and remember to get a photo of this to prove the problem. For now, here is an example - keep in mind it's a lot smaller when on the top of a PCR tube.

I did a little bit of detective calligraphy and was able to work out which one was which but decided to make up a fresh dilution and underline it this time around.

The second issue was more problematic

Monday, 14 January 2013

Splice - Movie Review

Splice is a 2009 science fiction film directed by Vincenzo Natali (all the pertinent info can be found on wikipedia). Given it's about biologists creating an artificial chimeric life-form I thought it would be worth a look.
To my relief the film isn't actually a horror film despite the trailer being edited to make us think that.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Humans have special powers!

Sometimes a research headline pops up where you think "What a pointless question" only to find out it's answer is potentially quite interesting. This was probably the most involved I got in the discussion of science at work today.

Scientists speak the truth

Twitter is having fun with #OverlyhonestMethods  at the moment. This site collects some of the best ones too.
I think it's a good thing that scientists are being a bit more open about why they do things in experiments the way they do. It makes us seem a bit more human and fallible.

If I were to admit to some they'd be along these lines and I suspect they'd be true for a lot of biologists.

  • Flies are kept at 25 degrees because then I don't need to come in at weekends.
  • Secondary antibodies are left on the sample for 2 hours because sometimes I like a long lunch or a quick drink in the evening.
  • I worked on a project because the wings looked fat (short and round) and not because they looked like Fat (protein knock down). Luckily it actually did interact with Fat. 
  • I do X method because that's how it worked - I have no idea why it worked and honestly don't care that much.
  • I use euparal fixing method because you can order it, rather than make it and it smells nice.
  • When I try to summarise a method with the phrase "basically" you can guarantee there's nothing basic about it.
  • sometimes I find an interesting result by accident and then have to concoct a legend as to why this was what I was expecting to find all along. 
  •  when a method says "72 hours" later I tend to do 10 or 14 as staying at work until 9pm or starting at 7am is too painful.
If I was being overly honest about this blogpost I'd say "I wrote this post because I don't have a twitter account and can't be bothered setting one up right now"

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Hopefully 2013 will bring a more regular schedule on the site with some of my science, some of other people's science and the general silliness. I have to admit finding new "name the biologists" is getting trickier with time but there are 1000s out there so I just need to think more carefully.

One thing I've discovered is that Flies really don't care if it is a bank holiday. Those little sods are going to need collected, tomorrow at the latest and I have a host of virgin flies to collect if I want to try and establish some mutant lines.