Thursday, June 19, 2008

Error1a: User does not meet manufacturer's minimum specifications.

So I put the lid on the gel chamber, plugged in the electrodes, set the current and the timer, pressed start, checked the voltage to make sure the gel was running and wandered off.

Five minutes later I come back to check that my gel is running okay. I glance at the voltage... all good.

I look, expecting to see the blue marker dye migrating down the gel. No blue line.

I turn the rig around, thinking I am looking at the buffer dam side. No blue line. Buffer dam.

I turn it back, hoping I was imagining it. No blue line.

I check the power pack to make sure the electrodes are plugged in the right way... maybe I have run my samples backwards out of the wells? Red to red, black to black, all fine.

I switch off the powerpack and check that the lid is on the right way round. Of course it is... these modern rigs are designed so you couldn't run them backwards even if you wanted to.

I am confused. I dither. Where are my samples? Where is the blue line? I've run thousands of gels (no exaggeration here) and never had the samples just disappear (except perhaps back in the days when you COULD run them backwards). This is an eerie, scary happening and it happened right here in my lab.

I glance over at my lab-bench to where my samples are sitting in the heating block. My samples are sitting in the heating block.

Now my gel is running. Blue line. All fine.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Atlas of our changing environment

Check out the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Atlas of Our Changing Environment, and the really amazing interactive map with before and after satellite pictures of environmental changes (courtesy of New Scientist Environment).

After the ball was over...

This is my happy ever after and these are my handsome princes!

A couple of weekends ago Princes J and T were invited to Princess D's 3rd birthday party. We drove a long way into the countryside, through the woods on the gravelly road, to where Princess D's palace is guarded by two fierce kunikuni (actually we arrived a day early and had to go back the next day, but never mind).

Fabulous new knickers

Apart from some supersized ones I bought while I was pregnant and some my mother bought and didn't like, these are my first new knickers since I came back from England. I think they're very exciting!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Space the final frontier...

... for advertising? Apparently this is the way the Brits want extraterrestrials to encounter their culture... mindboggling, eh?!

You can see the ads that didn't make the cut here

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Still more reasons to love Iceland...

... Pickled goat's balls and banana and anchovy pizza... When's the next flight?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Making the blind to see!

Following on from the robotic monkey arms (and here and here), another cool prosthesis, this time stimulating nerve cells inside the eye, to enable people who have lost their sight from (a specific type of) retinal disease to perceive visual images. A thousand miracle cliches are fluttering at my fingertips!

Whether 'tis nobler?

Here's the scenario... you have friends coming over and you know coffee is their beverage of choice. Is it okay to buy the Fair Trade version of the mostly-non-fair-trade-brand coffee from the supermarket or try to get to Trade Aid to buy genuine Fair Trade coffee, knowing you certainly won't make it before someone melts down? Given that I chose the expedient option, did I just line the pockets of an evil exploitative coffee empire or can my consumer dollar make them change their scurrilous ways? (And since I also bought disposible nappies in the same shop, have I any right to pretend I am making moral choices?)

Oh yeah, as it turned out they brought their own, more morally righteous coffee, 'cos they knew I was out! :-)