Friday, June 13, 2008

Lab Lessons

Doing experiments in a genetics laboratory really has the ability to teach not only lessons about science, but also lessons about life. I am completly convinced of it. Now, maybe this is just because I choose to see it this way, and maybe I am forcing this, but these ideas speak loudly to me.

Each experiment we do is aimed at providing information about the existing biological state of something. But each little experiment is also a micro scale view of the much larger lessons in trial, error, error and error, in tenacity, in not taking it personally, in thinking critically, in failure and in luke warm achievements.

Right now in our lab we are doing a project that is completely new to all who are involved, even the head scientist. We are getting results, but we dont really know how to interpret them. So, each time we do our experiment we get the result .04, for example, which is a low number. Some people say this is a reflection of some biological condition that we are measuring, while others say that the experiment is messed up somehow.

In the beginning of this project we envisioned it working super well once all the correct factors were in place. We envisioned getting a 100 and not a .04, followed by some kind of dorky but satisfying high-five and maybe a celebratory drink when it all made sense. Now, after doing it time and time and time again, and learning bit by ever-loving bit how to do it correctly, I realized today that there is just not ever going to be a high-five moment. There is not going to be a time when it all makes sense. Things progress too gradually and never really get all that much better. And I hate to take a life lesson from this, but I am afraid I have to, ouch.


  1. The great thing about life is that it contains it all. There are the high-five moments, but then there are the gradual progressions too. When my little brother was born, it was more awesome than any high-five moment I ever experienced. Thirteen years later, he is going to be taking the train by himself to summer camp. No one is giving high-fives, but we are still a little awestruck at this gradual progression of a child turning into a young man.

  2. maybe that's the great thing and the most frustrating thing about science is that one procedure or experiment leads to 3 more questions and instead of answering the original question, you now have 4 questions to deal with. I also think science forces you to be persistent and to come to grips that you definitely have to learn from your mistakes and do it differently next time. I look at my new student and I hope everyday that he learns that lesson and I think he is, slowly.

  3. Here's another mantra for whatever life throws at you (something I experienced both the hard way - and through the same revelations you had):

    "Be there on time . . . bring all your stuff."