Friday, September 18, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 289

If there is one thing I hope to accomplish in my lifetime it is to break the long held stereotype that science labs are full of various colored chemicals percolating inside glassware so needlessly complicated it looks like the glass blower got the hiccups.

It is just simply not true, no matter how much B-Movies may try to convince you. Not once do we have bright green or red things being distilled down into a test tubes to do unspeakable horrors.

Er um, well okay so sometimes there are bright pretty colors.
But the rather entertaining thing is I'd say at least 80-85% of the time the brightly colored stuff you see is actually probably fairly innocuous (to begin with). Colors are used to keep track of pH for us as cells and bacteria have a funny habit of deciding they want to die off if an environment becomes too acidic or basic (they're just incredibly lazy, whining about their working conditions to OSHA).

So the bright pinks and reds mean a solution is usually neutral and perfectly safe to touch or play with. However if it is cell media that has the words "STERILE" stamped all over it you risk a crazed cell lab technician coming at you with a box full of 24 well plates if you do open it up to touch it.

And what was in my perfectly safe bright red and yellow tubes (the yellow is due to a very acidic nature)? Just a few grams of bacteria all waiting to go to bacteria heaven in the autoclave. See, that's why one shouldn't actually go around eating anything in the lab (well that and God only knows what was on the counters over the years). It may be safe in the packaging but you never know what the mad scientist is going to put in it.

All of my pretty tubes had to get dumped for a good scrubbing so they could be re-sterilized and then used again for more fun bacteria experiments. You can see the now dead bacteria caked all over the bottom of the tubes.
If you've ever wondered what concentrated bacteria smells like just take a piece of rather ripe cheese on a submarine sandwich, hide it behind a radiator for a month and then take a good whiff. It's still missing that autoclave burning pow to the nose but you're pretty close to what I got to clean out yesterday.

There's really only one solution to a snout full of bacteria laden media:
This is why every lab has its own flower box growing the most fragrant roses in the world on the windowsill. We'd share with the rest of you, but we're much too busy putting gel in our hair for that rabid Einstein look and placing an order for more dry ice for the mood setting mist we all work in.

I hope I have been able to convince you that most scientists are not like what you see in B-Movies. We're all upright slightly better groomed individuals working hard to further research who only try to take over the world on the weekend.

In Puppy News, last night my husband and I made a fairly typical garlic laden pasta sauce mixture. As is wont to happen in chopping and distribution a few pieces of garlic slipped off and vanished under the cupboards.

Early in the morning Essie starts her ritual of clawing on my arm so I'll get up and get her her breakfast. Once that's inhaled she begins the "looking in the kitchen for any last scrap of food missed" move.

I didn't think too much of it, there were just a few crumbs from chips or so I lost, and when I sat down on the floor to play with the puppy I got this super strong whiff of garlic. "Did we leave some food out last night on accident?"

"No, I know we put it all away and wait the scent is gone again. Essie."
If you're a vampire you better turn bat if you see this face coming at you or you'll be covered in garlic puppy drool. My puppy has turned into Essie: The Vampire Lick Slayer.

I just hope she works all the little puppy garlic farts out of her system before we come home tonight.


Chesney said...

What puppies won't eat - you are gonna have one stinky dog for a while LOL

Anonymous said...

The favorite trick in our lab is using up leftover dry ice in a beaker filled with water and a tiny bit of phenol red. Colors are so rare, but they make labwork so cheerful when they're there!