Friday, April 28, 2006


Do you ever reach a point when you really, really think that the wisest path would be to admit defeat?

We had a bio lab today. The plan was that we would look at the samples of e. coli that we had prepared last week and had since been incubated, and would count to see how many colonies had grown, compared to the number of colonies that survived on a plate with some antibiotic on it. See? Cool idea.

Unfortunately, as lab started, we learned yet again that battle plans never survive first contact with the enemy. Firstly, our TA was AWOL, so that our professor had to introduce the lab. Secondly, the plates had been incubated far too long, so that our e. coli colonies were large, sprawling blobs, bigger than they ought to be. Thirdly, all of the plates had become contaminated, so that there were lots of other bacteria colonies growing on them, indistinguishable from the e. coli colonies.

A lesser teacher might have given up and sent everyone home early. Instead, we were instructed to count the "bigger" colonies. Since we were also given the rough number at which we should arrive, we were able to exercise artistic judgment about what exactly was or was not a "big" colony. Later, this judgment was made more complicated when we were supposed to choose a small, medium, and large colony from among our randomly selected "big" colonies.

We spent about another hour distributing our e. coli into a number of other plates, with various concentrations of the antibiotic, even though we had all heard the TA (a substitute who was held up by the evil CTA) and the prof argue about whether or not this whole thing was rendered pointless by the contamination, and basically agree that it was, but heck, couldn't hurt to try.

This would only be moderately funny if it wasn't for the fact that our last lab, which involved trying to get a large sample of our DNA through some PCR reaction, also massively failed, also through no fault of our own. I'm starting to have a little trouble taking these lab assignments all that seriously, I'm afraid.

1 comment:

Miri said...

sounds like why my mom decided not to go to medical school.