Bloggin on science - Mistakes!?!
May 14, 2012 | by Samuel LaBarge
Foolish mistakes are an amazing aspect of scientific research. Mistakes that involve not following a set protocol or failing to follow a protocol or just forgetting there are protocols is not uncommon to a scientist. With this in mind, I have listed a set of bungles from my hands. Some of these examples are given to exaggeration and some are just irritating.
- Add 100μL tube A into tube B, repeat ad nauseam. Sounds simple enough, but I zoned out and forgot which vials I just pipetted from and into.
- Poured too much polymerizing poly-acrylamide between gel plates. I not only have to remake the gel but also clean up a neurotoxin.
- Failed to prep enough poly-acrylamide for the number of gels I wanted to run.
- Black leads connected to positive terminal, red leads connected to negative terminal.
- Filter paper, filter paper, membrane, gel, filter paper, filter paper, or is it filter paper, filter paper, gel, membrane, filter paper, filter paper?
- No methanol in the transfer buffer.
- Used transfer buffer in the separation phase (works!) and running buffer in the transfer phase (not so much!).
- No cDNA in the qPCR.
- Wrong temperature on the thermocycler.
- For that matter, wrong temperature on anything required of an exact temperature.
- Unpaired t-test vs paired t-test, suddenly things aren’t statistically significant.
- Water into acid.
- a) Latex gloves that didn’t fit; b) lots of soap; c) shattered the only available bioreactor for my particular experiment.
- Have you ever tried to set a quarter on the edge of a desk then flip it to the opposite side with half a rotation? Same principle, but replace quarter with a confluent Petri dish.
- Ruined last Petri dish of confluent cells.
- Not enough cells for adequate experimental design.
- Dropped a full bucket of ice minus samples.
- Dropped a full bucket of ice plus samples.
- Left samples in liquid nitrogen then went home for the night. Returned the next morning and found no liquid nitrogen and plenty of warm samples.
- Labeled samples incorrectly.
- Didn’t label samples.
- Forgot there were samples to label.
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