Superstition


For my colleague from Israel it was a matter of faith, when he warned me that going to the lab on a Saturday wont be favored by God. Yes I know, I said to him, but first of all I am an bloody atheist, and second this super-ambitious student in my group occupies the RealTime PCR machine every day of the week. So to check the results of my transfected cell cultures, I have to do it on the weekend. Moishe from Israel was just smiling, saying that in Israel nobody would trust any experiments which were done on a Saturday.

I ignored his remarks, and of course came here yesterday, when Moishe was sitting at home doing the Shabbat, avoiding to manually switching on any light or cooker, let alone a computer or anything else related with work.

I was happy to do a large batch of gene-expression measurements that nicely filled an entire 96well reaction plate. I also was happy to find a new batch of the qRT-PCR master-mix, from a company which just promoted their more reliable, more sophisticated, simply cooler enzyme and fluorescence formula. Everything went pretty smooth, and after pipetting the cDNAs and the primers and the master-mix I happily quitted the “Are you sure you want to start the run” button, locked the lab door and jumped on my bike to ride home.

Today when I came to collect and analyzed the results I immediately recognised something fishy had happened. The usually very smooth and nice ordered kinetic curves all looked like the footpathes of a crowd of drunken teens. They were jumping up and down on the diagram and simply did not made any sense at all.

So I thougth to consult the FAQ page of Agilent, the supplier of the new qRT-PCR kit I used first time on Shabbat. One question was “How much of the internal fluorescence dye standard should I add to the reaction” ? What they mean by “adding an internal fluorescence dye standard”, usually all other kits we used before had this already pre-mixed. Only Agilent, for their own enigmatic reason, decided to ship it separately, and have it added by the customer himself.

The consequence of my insistence to work on the holy Saturday: I worked 2 hours for nothing, and I wasted the reagents for 96 reactions (at a price of 0,80 € per reaction plus consumables, i.e. about 100 € in total).

I promise I wont turn to any religious faith now, but maybe I try a little bit of Superstition.

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