The moment your heart stops beating May 25, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, research.
Tags: bad results, engineering, engineering research, experiment, research
I hate when I hear the words, “I need some help in the lab.”
I try my best, but I’m the last person you want in the lab. Therefore, if someone is asking me to help in the lab, you know there is a major catastrophe.
The other day I was asked to help in the lab because things weren’t working right. In fact, when I started looking at it, things weren’t working at all. While I hadn’t done the setup on this particular experiment, I was supervising it. So I had to run through the list of variables that could be affecting the results. It took a couple hours, but it turned out that some piece of equipment was being swapped out for another, and this new equipment simply didn’t work in the experiment. So we tried the original equipment again and it worked. New equipment didn’t. We tried a third piece of gear and found it worked, but only in particular situations where we spoke the incantations in a foreign tongue (or something similar).
Anyway, we figured it out for two of the three cases. However, when I first was looking at the non-working gear and not getting anything, my heart just stopped for a moment. It’s one of those moments where you think, “But I thought I knew what was going on? Did I completely screw up?! How could I have made such a huge mistake?!”
And of course the best one: “Does this mean ALL of my research is trash?!!!!”
I hate those moments, even if short-lived. Don’t you?