Monday, October 27, 2008

Warning! Boring! (it's what I do)

I spent all of Friday night in the lab. Yep, I'm just that kind o' party girl. As part of my "35-hour-experiment-from-hell" (well, it's actually much long than that, but the truly hellish part is only about 35 hours), I had a little slumber party with a bunch of ciliates. Oh, the fun! And, anyway, I got it into my head that some sick, bored person out there might like to see what kind of things make up long, drawn-out science-y things on the cutting edge of cell and molecular biology! (Actually, this is on the cutting edge like Kansas is on the ocean. But I digress.)

In short, feel free to skip this post.

It all starts on Friday morning, 5:00 am. I mix cells so they will mate and shake them around for a half an hour so they'll all mate pretty much at the same time (yes, that's really how we do that). Then I monitor the cells for several hours. Most of the late morning and early afternoon is spent making control slides and continuing to monitor the mating. I get to go home at 5:00 pm for a bit of a nap. Then the real fun begins.

Picture it: Friday night, 9:00 pm. I open the incubator and am confronted with the solutions of mating cells I prepared eeeaaarrrllly that morning:

I add growth medium to one of the flasks:

Then I start taking samples from both flasks:

And put them in little tubes.

I put the tubes in the centrifuge and spin them so all the cells go down into the bottom:

Then I suck off all the fluid leaving a little ball of cells at the bottom of the tube.

Then I wash the cells with 3 different washes of methanol (mix up the cells in methanol, let them sit, spin the cells down and suck off the methanol, repeat, repeat):

And then I finally drop some concentrated cells onto slides which I will stain, photograph and digitally analyze later.

Repeat every two hours for eleventy million hours. (Oh, okay. Fourteen.) Then repeat every twelve hours for a week. Because this is how many slides I'm making:

I don't know right now. A lot.

And now I have to go make some more. Ta!!



YarnThrower said...

Perhaps oddly, I found this very interesting! Thank you for the "inside look."

Becky G said...

Mating least somebody is, never mind!

Anonymous said...

I find all that science-y stuff fascinating! I had wanted a career in science, especially lab work, but then I took chemistry! Consequently, I changed my mind. Good luck with the rest of the slides and all.

jmk said...

How did you manage to stay awake all that time?? I can feel my eyes slamming shut just reading about it!