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What is it OK to blog about?

I had always intended to use this blog as day-to-day record of what it’s like being a PhD student. Unfortunately this proved to be unsuccessful. I never even got round to giving it a sensible title. Most of the posts I found myself writing were about silly mistakes that I made in the laboratory. Sometimes these mistakes were pretty funny and I thought...

The sad truth about being a first year PhD student

Having to yell “MY ECKSPERRYMENTS DIDN’T WERK AGAYNE” in despair at the end of each day.

Why iguanas are freakin’ awesome

When they swim they can’t be bothered to use their legs. They just let their limbs dangle casually as they propel themselves aalong with their tail. Got your tail trapped in the car door? No problem if you’re an iguana – they can just casually shed it and carry on with their day no problemo. In central and South America they’re called “chicken of the...

Why French pressing is a thoroughly unpleasant experience for all parties involved

French pressing squashes cells under loads of pressure until they go POP. The press consists of a hydraulic pump and a piston in a hollow metal cylinder which contains the cells. It’s a bit like making coffee in a cafetiere but much, much, worse. The cells are pushed through a valve where the plasma membrane/cell wall just can’t take it any more and...

The most exciting thing I have ever received in the post

I am now officially, WILLINGLY, New England Biolabs‘ slave for life. They sent me a new researcher starter pack for freeee. It is so awesome that I just want to buy everything from them, whether I need it or not. I got: Floatee (for incubating my Eppendorf tubes in a water bath) Very snazzy 1GB data stick on a string, so I can wear it around my neck...

How fast can you spin a human in a centrifuge?

I was doing some centrifuging today, spinning my bacteria shizzle at 40,000 rpm (185677.44 g). “Wow that’s zoomy and spinny” I thought. It came up in conversation “how fast could you spin a human in a centrifuge?” According to my friend Sophie, a person can survive up to 9 g at constant rotation. The average width of a person is 22 inches, so a ‘rotor’...


I’ve been silent for quite a while; I’ve been gadding around having fun and being cultured for the past few months. Now it’s time to get back into the scientific swing of things. I start my PhD in a couple of weeks, eep! Whenever people ask me what my PhD is in, they generally expect an answer like “biology” (in which case they assume you’re about to...

Let Them Eat Hype

Currently circulating around a social site I frequent is a news article from 2007 about a “miracle drug that cures cancer but no one has taken any noticer”. There is much outrage from users about why little has been heard about this drug since then. Conspiracy theories are popping up left right and centre. As a lone scientist amongst the masses, I decided...

People laughed when I said I wanted to crystallize membrane proteins – but now I have badgers

To put it simply: The process of photosynthesis involves lots of little protein components. If we find out the structure of these proteins we can start to understand how they work. We can find out the structure by crystallizing the protein and then firing X-rays at it (and doing some complicated maths). Photosynthesis proteins are notoriously difficult/frustrating...

Lab Safety – Lesson 1

I’ve been pretty busy with my Masters and have been neglecting my blog. I came up with a cunning plan to spew my “scientific” nonsense: video diaries. They’re quicker to make than painstakingly pondering over words. However since I am so brain blattered and tired, things are liable to get silly. In addition, I prefer writing. Still, at least I’m postin’.

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