Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sort of schadenfraude.

Our lab had a minor, non-dangerous disaster today.

This happens sometimes in science, there are so many things that can go wrong. Some are stupid, some are klutzy, and sometimes that's just the way it goes. Equipment breaks, people make mistakes, stuff falls on the floor, and so on.

I am perhaps somewhat unusual in that I am typically pretty calm about these kinds of things when they were a) unpredictable, b) unavoidable or c) honest mistakes.

It's research because you have to do everything a few times anyway. So what's one more, in the grand scheme of things?


Disasters are science are not usually life-or-death for the scientists involved. They really only suck for a few reasons:

a) somebody gets injured
b) something broken will take a long time to fix/replace
c) a long-term experiment has to be done over, wasting a lot of time and effort
d) something broken is irreplaceable (unusual but happens sometimes)
e) something broken is too expensive to replace in the forseeable future, maybe not ever

In this case, there were no injuries, and nothing was broken, so it was 'minor' except in the sense of time lost. Which is admittedly still really annoying.

[The only time I get really pissed off is when somebody who should know better, according to their title/payscale, did not know or care and did something ignorant or destructive out of sheer apathy/stupidity, which ruined some long-term laborious experiment of mine. This has only ever happened to me once, but nobody seemed to understand that my reaction was a) unusual and b) totally justified.]

But today I am a bad person because I honestly don't really care ONLY because I am soooo glad that by some dumb luck, this particular disaster will not affect me or my work.

It would have been very bad for my experiments, and I do feel bad for the people whose experiments are ruined.

But I don't feel that bad. Because I am SO glad that it didn't happen to me.

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2 Comments:

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

Glad everything is okay. We've had a few major and minor disasters over the years, but luckily nothing has drastically set back my work.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Professor in Training said...

I've been fortunate enough to have avoided two freezer breakdowns in recent years simply by virtue of not having my samples in the freezer that died. I was given the evil eye for days because I wasn't down on my knees crying about all of the lost work ... but it wasn't my stuff that was ruined. Callous response? Perhaps. But like you, it wasn't my loss and I was breathing several sighs of relief that it wasn't me.

 

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