Work and labor

One of the things that seems wierd to me about science as a profession is how the job often requires both esoteric activities like probability theory or genetic engineering and mundane menial labor like washing dishes or mixing large amounts of dirt. As a graduate student I used to want to do everything in the lab myself: making media, counting plates, all of it. Part of it was that I wanted to know how every part of my experiments worked, and part of it was perfectionism and paranoia. Now, I find myself wanting to teach someone how to do that stuff well, and have them do the tedious work for me. Especially the part where you’ve already done the pilot experiments and the first replicate so you already know what the answer’s going to be — you’re just getting clean data for the paper. Now, I’d rather develop the assays, get them working reliably, and then let someone else finish out the data collection.

I have to say, though: my experience of lab work has recently been completely transformed since purchasing an mp3 player (I’m a slow adopter). Before, it was like, “I need to make media? Again? Grumble grumble…” Now it’s like, “Aw, hell yeah”.

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