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Thursday, 12 February 2009

Biology is a beach.


I am not quite so sad any more. I am pretty blue but I can at least “smile like I mean it”, as the Killers would say. I have a plan to try and be more active outside work, to help me forget about what goes on at work. Ok. That is a lie. I have a plan to make a plan. Soon.

There is not much I can do about what happens in the lab though, except prostrate myself in front of the Biology Goddess.

The Biology Goddess is an irrational bitch to work for. When she is in a bad mood, you know all about it. Your experiments won’t work. Things turn out to be turnips, say, instead of fruit flies. And when you start it all again, you will get completely different results to the time before.

So what you have to do is, you have to appease the Biology Bitch. You have to make a sacrifice, or wear a special symbol of respect. Biology may as well be voodoo or witchcraft for the way most scientists behave. They will have their lucky charm; their favourite pippette, their special red jocks, their monkey mascot, whatever it is that they had or wore or did when something went right. They will try to replicate that glorious day each time they do the experiment, or surely it is doomed to fail? The Goddess must be appeased.

You will see many a scientist, lovingly fondling their tubes while whispering powerful incantations over their DNA potions.

I happen to know a good spell that cannot be repeated here for it is like gold. But the abridged version goes something like this:

“you little fuckers, you had better do what you are supposed to, or I am going to spit on you, pee on you, stomp on you and feed you to the incinerator. P.s. iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou please work."

My supervisor said to me the other day that I have the touch or the knack for a certain technique. Erm, no. Logically there is no magic touch. If you follow the protocol it should work. Logically. It didn’t work once because some of our sequences were faulty. The next time it worked because we fixed them. But logic does not apply here. We put it down to magic and mysticism in the end.

And of course what I did not tell my supervisor was that I was wearing my uber special lucky left purple stripy sock at the time, folded exactly once, two fingers above the ankle, and that is why my experiment worked that one time. Now I am going to have to wear that bloody sock every day. I wonder if washing it will remove some of its good luck potency?

You may think I am joking, but from what I have seen, for a bunch of people who supposedly lean from agnosticism towards severe atheism, Biologists are all superstitious voodoo priests.

If I had known this before, I doubt I would have taken up Biology after school. Who would, unless you enjoy constant failure, a mad logic that no one has quite yet deciphered, and a bitchy goddess who is impossible to appease?

And quite frankly if some guidance counsellor had told me that at some point in my career I would need to delicately massage some fragile tubes in order to ease a “blocked orifice flow”, well I would have thought twice. But I don't know. Maybe I am just picky.

16 comments:

LadyFi said...

Massaging tubes? Voodoo priests? Don't let the secret out or everyone will be rushing to be a scientist!!

You are completely destroying our stereotypes of scientists being absent-minded people who cling to cold logic and reasoning while wearing white nylon coats...

6000 said...

Microbiology (as you know) is even better. You don't even know that your experiment has failed until the next day and then it takes a day to sort it out.
And TB is even worse - 2 weeks minimum before you know if your sock trick worked.

Dash said...

i do that whenever i try to program.

wink left eye. wink right eye. run around room. stub toe. compile. run. fail.

run agin just to see if it changes its mind.

throw computer out window.

Tamara said...

Oh po, you are so funny! glad you're feeling a tiny bit less glum. Hope things keep improving.

and that all your socks become lucky.

Being Brazen said...

ha ha ha ha....you made biology funny - amazing..

Astharis said...

Sounds more like you're in a cult than a science!

Anyway, this is one of the many reasons that I was never good at any science when I was at school... I was never patient enough to try again after something went wrong the first time, even though I did everything perfectly!

po said...

Ladyfi: I am one of the most absent minded people on the planet, so that still stands :)

6000: oh the memories. 2 weeks? What a nightmare. So what is your lucky sock?

Dash: hmm, so programmers are voodoo priests too?

Tamara: thanks! Socks - lucky but smelly.

po said...

BB: hmm, it can be. Working with "cox ass" genes and things. You have to laugh.

Astharis: haha perfection does not exist in Biology. And I think we are a bit of acult really.

Medio Pomelo said...

Hahaha, I know this so well. My bro is a conservational biologist and when he was doing his PhD research he would go through weeks of failure when his research actually proved that all barn owls should have died out millions of years ago. Then one lucky day his results showed they could live for a long time yet and needed to be looked after. Or something like that. It was a day of joy and celebration :)

po said...

medio pomelo: oh my god that sounds familiar! hehe, the poor guy, was he on the verge of quitting?

Medio Pomelo said...

Po, he was sooo near quitting... His hair was falling out and he was suffering from a terrible case of.... well.. family secret... dandruff!! pssst!!! Good news: the dandruff was gone as soon as the research behaved itself and all his hair grew back too :)))

po said...

Medio pomelo: I really feel for him, I do. I'm glad he stuck it out though, many people just give up. And I don't blame them!

Louisa said...

I never realised science was this mystical!

You better wash that sock every now and then or you'll have to start wearing your lucky foot fungus soon. :-P

Darkchocolate said...

hehehe. I have always wondered about scientists and their cubes.

not always like CSI is it :)

Paula said...

oh wow. Nice post. I laughed till my stomach gave out. I just got lost at all the scientific-y stuff. But, do not fault me on that one please?

lol @ louisa's sock comment. Very funny.

po said...

Louisa: eeeuw. Except, it would be quite interesting to study it...

NOT!

Dark chocolate: no thank goodness. CSI seems insanely boring.

Paula: no worries I spend most of my time faking that I know what is going on but really I forgot it all straight out of university.