Fab Lab

To each Milica her own: my guns are called Pipetboys! Not kidding.

“This is going to be painful, but at least I look fabulous!” – I said, wearing protection glasses and wielding a scalpel. I was getting ready for a long session of cutting bands from an agarose gel, something everyone who has ever done DNA sequencing is well familiar with. See how the gel looks like, in one of Yongtao’s posts. An interesting thing: I was wearing protection glasses for the first time in my then 9-year long scientific career. No matter what CSI shows us, those things are often unnecessary. The only reason I had them on is because the new lab didn’t have a protection visor, something I used in the previous lab. The purpose? Protect the eyes from direct exposure to UV light, the prerequisite of DNA detection. So yeah, I needed some protection, and the glasses were the only option.

Lab life can be boring, repetitive and tedious, but if you find cool stuff and associate them with awesomeness, it can be fabulous! Moreover, every lab accessory or prop truly has a serious purpose!

For example, look at this amazing rotating door! It leads into a dark room, where we develop films after Western blot. But I always think of them as a combination of escape pod, teleport tube, cryochamber and time machine. 4-in-1!


And speaking of cryochambers, the photo to the right is like… every cell biologist’s shrine… in case there are no -140°C freezers around.  No, these are not astromech droids, i.e. a bunch of R2D2s! They are liquid nitrogen tanks, in which we freeze cells.

Next, my trusty Light Cycler, a qPCR and HRM machine I do wonders on. I’m not sure why Roche decided to name it so similarly to the best motorcycle ever – the light cycles in the Tron movies  – but I love it even more!!

IMG_5421 Recently, on one of my favorite YouTube channels, CinemaSins, where two guys ridicule the nonsense that is Hollywood cinema, portrayal of scientists was smirked at: why so many pens in the lab coat pocket? Let me tell you something, CinemaSins: every. pen. has. a. purpose!

Permanent marker is for writing on plastic and metal. Graphite pen is for writing notes on spot – and it better have an eraser on the other end! And the ballpoint pen is for writing things “in stone”, e.g. the date on the final data sheet. Bam!

penspens2“Let’s give this guy glasses, a notepad, a cane, and two… no, three pens to make him look extra nerdy.”

There’s a reason for all those pens! But the stereotypical scientific look is… well, becoming annoying in cinema. More on that soon!

autoclaveLet’s wrap up with Star Wars (again!) – after all, it’s May 4th! One of my colleagues wittily taped Darth Vader sticks on autoclaved pipette tip boxes: yepp, this is as nerdy as it gets. Autoclave tape serves as an indicator of completed and successful sterilization under high-temperature steam, by turning black during the process. But how cool would it be to have Darth Vader instead of boring, parallel lines? Something to think of, biotech industry!

May the 4th be with you!

To be continued…



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