Thursday, November 13, 2014

A spark in the lab

It was not even that late. The sun sets much earlier than usual because it was mid-November. Everyone scurried home way earlier than before to avoid the rain forecasted to start in a few hours time. But she couldn't go home because she needs to finish this procedure to get these batch of cells into the PCR machine so they can run overnight. He, obviously couldn't as well as he was seen busy pipetting solutions for the a few hours now. Who knows why he couldn't wait until tomorrow, everyone is so busy these days, it's hard to constantly keep track of what other's live is about. 

In the midst of the test tubes and the neon-coloured solutions, their eyes met. They were allocated seats on opposite sides of a bench but nothing this strong has stirred in their hearts before. Well, at least not in hers. But there is something about this moment...her breath paused and she could hear her own heart beating hard against her chest wall. His eyes, oh, his eyes were so beautifully created. It's as if he could stare straight into her soul, looking in her now stirring, no, melting heart. The blue flame from the Bunsen burner was the only witness to this magical moment.

To be continued...

Ok, how's my fiction writing skills? Can be the next best-selling author or not?

Hahaha....Let me entertain myself for a while because I was feeling a bit frustrated in the lab lately. I have been repeating the same procedure for 4 times, and without my supervisor around, it was pretty daunting to do everything on my own. But I did it! After consulting other senior researchers around, I finally managed to troubleshoot all the problems and got the right gene fragments for the plasmids (a.k.a. ring of genes that isn't part to your own genome).

Then the spark happened...

To transform the bacteria (transformation: bacteria are able to take up genes from surrounding and adopt it as their own), I have to use electric pulses to make these electrocompetent little things to take up the plasmids. I was so happy when the plasmids are assembled and I can't wait to put them into the E.coli. So after mixing the plasmid and the bacteria together, I put them into the pulsing chamber and pressed 'PULSE'. After a few seconds


I was utterly shocked. What just happened? My supervisor who just got back this morning was laughing at the side,
'Finally you've seen a spark in the lab!'
'WHAT JUST HAPPENED? Are they dead?'
'Yea, probably fried. You'll have to assemble new plasmids.'
He said while still chuckling. Not funny, not funny at all.

Ah, the beauty of science in reality! Experiments in school, college and the past 2 years in uni have just been too nicely choreographed to be fool-proof. Being in this research project really allowed me to have a real taste of science experiments. It's not a walk in the garden anymore, rather, problems always appear and even when you follow the procedure to the microlitres, things still won't be guaranteed to turn out the way you wanted it to be. One of my supervisors said even the machine operated PCR (Google: polymerase chain reaction) is a dark art.

On a brighter note, I can almost see the end of my project and it's week 6!
The sunset of Michaelmas Week 5 in Cambridge 

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