Sunday, October 7, 2007

Superstition

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance because, again, I am talking about work. Unfortunately, my life is currently dominated by work, so apparently, that's what's on my mind.

Normally, I'm not a very superstitious person. However, when it comes to molecular biology, I totally am. It really does seem that when someone is having problems getting a particular technique that falls into the realm of molecular biology, that the experimenter's mood/attitude or just the alignment of the stars seems to end up having a larger factor in success than anything else. In science, it's not supposed to be this way, but for certain techniques, a "routine" is developed. Whether the routine involves orienting your sample in a particular manner during incubation times, or not talking with anyone about your experiments until they have progressed beyond the point of most likely failure, or simply saying the proper blessings before you go home for the evening, is entirely dependent on the scientist. I prefer the isolationist mentality, having people making suggestions or watching me while I'm prepping samples or having someone else check on my samples (with or without my knowledge), really seems to drive me crazy.

This past week has been very difficult. I currently have a "shadow" right now - I'm training a new graduate student. So, I am being followed around while I work. Additionally, the amount of freedom I seem to have in this particular lab, is rather low. Coming from lab at ISU with thirteen grad students/post docs and now being in a group of three, results in a greatly increased amount of time the boss has for each researcher. From what I've mentioned earlier in this post, you might see how the superstitious person could have difficulties with work while someone is constantly watching over your shoulder or being constantly asked about how your work is progressing.

To satisfy my superstitious side, I worked several hours on both days of the weekend to have "relative" peace and quiet. Saturday ended without success - possibly because I didn't really get peace and quiet, my shadow, for whatever reason, appeared unexpectedly and was unwilling to just vanish. However, Sunday provided the appropriate scenario (isolation, silence) and, lo and behold, the cloud of the previous week's worth of continuous failure lifted and the *expletive* thing worked. So, here's what I have to say to the people that looked at me oddly when I talked with them about being superstitious in science - "eat it".

Stick with what works for you and any one that says otherwise can shove it.

1 comment:

kilax said...

Don't apologize. I like hearing about your work! It has always interested me, but like you mentioned in an earlier post, common people (read: me) don't understand it. I think it is really important to talk about your work with your friends in family. Not to bitch, but to just share your life! I mean come on, you spend most of your day at work!

Don't take this the wrong way, but I always think it is odd that your parents don't discuss work that much. I really don't think I could describe to someone what their day is like, and I would like to be able to! I am just interested in other people's professions.

Anyway... I am happy that the peace and quiet helped you achieve *expletive* success. I hope your little shadow learns fast. Their is nothing worse than a clingy intern (oops, does that describe me? ha ha.)