We’ve all heard about the unbalanced centrifuge that took out a whole wall, or the PhD student reduced to tears during his first lab meeting, or even the exploding compound in the undergrad lab’s microwave (you know, the one that nearly destroyed the entire department).
There are a multitude of worries we’ve all suffered from when working in the lab, some distinctly more rational than others! Here are our favorite top 10 lab fears – share yours in the comments below or by tweeting #labfears to our team @sciencewater.
- You worry you’ll inadvertently micro-inject yourself with your meticulously designed DNA construct destined for a transgenic line of flies. You probably won’t fluoresce… probably.
- You’re convinced you’ll be asked a question at a conference that you’ll have absolutely no idea how to answer and you’ll have to play the “That’s a very good question. But I think the important factor here is actually…” card.
- You’ll fail to correctly balance the large centrifuge, so that it takes off like a cannonball, laying waste to at least three labs. Seriously, I know a guy, who knows a girl, who used to work with a guy that saw this happen!
- You’re afraid to leave your gel tank to join the rest of the lab for coffee, on the off-chance that all of your samples have run off the end of the gel by the time you get back (or, if you’re especially sleepy that morning, running the samples in the wrong direction and straight out of the gel).
- You’re convinced that your work at CERN in Switzerland MUST be bad for your health. Electrons whizzing around a massive 27 km circuit at close to the speed of light… Sounds dangerous to me.
- You worry that when you fill the liquid nitrogen tank, any spillage might freeze your legs solid, leaving you welded to the floor like that scene in Terminator 2.
- Maybe you’ll inadvertently chop off one – or more – of your fingers while sectioning samples at the microtome for hours on end.
- You suffer from a continual nagging that every time you put your hand into the gel dock to try and get a better shot of your bands, something bad is happening to your skin (even under two pairs of gloves, and your lab coat). But you keep doing it anyway, just because you know the perfectly aligned image is just one more adjustment away!
- Perhaps you’ll be entombed in the -80oC freezer as you dig just a little deeper for that sample – you know, the one that you’re almost certain has to be buried under at least one of the 200 boxes in there!
- A deep-seated fear that your PhD supervisor will invite you over for dinner. And then you’ll have to make conversation. Yikes.
What did we miss? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so post your top lab fears – rational or otherwise – in the comments below, or tweet #labfears @sciencewater