The thing about science…

Sep 17th, 2004

I am currently in the lab waiting for an agarose gel to finish. This will allow me to find out the size of the DNA that I have been working with, and thus to find out if I actually have the DNA that I’m expecting. You see, prior to this I have attempted to cut the DNA into two pieces, each of a different length, and if and where my enzymes cut is determines by the DNA sequence. As I know where it should cut if everything has gone right, and the size of fragments this should produce, I can use the results of the gel to work out if everything has gone to plan.

Of course, I did all this six weeks ago. It said all had worked then, but it hadn’t, it turns out I had problems elsewhere. I also tried the same procedure yesterday and it didn’t work then either, only for different reasons, mainly that although the DNA may have been correct, the bacteria in which I cloned (grew it up in) it probably weren’t.

In this six weeks I’ve been working so far, the one thing I’ve learnt about science is that much of the time it doesn’t work. This results in you spending more time working out why it doesn’t work than you do working out the thing you set out to find in the first place. Although this can be fun in a logic puzzle kind of a way it can also be highly frustrating. Of course, sometimes in something not working you discover something special. I haven’t managed something like that yet.

My gel has finished now and it’s a mixture of good and bad. The bad is that I have to repeat the whole process again, as I failed to isolate the correct DNA in most of my cases. The good news is that I think I have figured out what went wrong, two of my extracts were as expected, and the failiure in the rest acted nicely to illustrate the entire point I’ve been making here.

Anyway, must get home. I haven’t eaten yet.

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