Archive for: November, 2010

The Why of the How

Nov 16 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Rising up out of the chaos that is my life currently to quote Namnezia again, talking about how important it is to not forget about (and occasionally remind ourselves of) the WHY of the HOW:

This is also true in the lab. Whenever one of my lab peeps comes in complaining that they can’t get something to work, I always tell them to check the original recipe, be it a methods section in a paper, a protocol book or a lab manual. Lab protocols tend to drift over time such that we teak thing here and there to make things work more optimally. But occasionally these tweaks add up over time, such that what we are doing is very different from the original protocol. It also turns out that many of these tweaks are completely unnecessary and just make the whole procedure way more complicated. I mean if you switch a specific incubation time and things suddenly work, are you really going to go back to the old way even if you are not sure that the incubation time had anything to do with your experiment suddenly working? No fucking way. Many of these experimental tweaks and turns basically border on what I call “lab voodoo”, and we just do them because at some point they seemed to help . But by the end, the protocol is so twisted and disfigured that if it stops working it is impossible to troubleshoot. Which is why it helps to go back to the beginning and try again. It also helps to read some old papers. Recently I re-read some not exactly-classic papers, but papers that set the experimental framework in my field and the whole impetus for my research. And there was so much in there that I can’t believe I missed the first time. There are so many unexplored leads, and hidden experimental gems, that after re-reading them I came out with a buttload of new ideas I wanted to try.

Can you see why I love this dude's blog so much?

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