Saturday, July 26, 2008

The adventures of an accidental scientist: Part V

Heh. So about three summers ago, I had a fun little adventure in the lab. I was using a lot of DNA from quinoa plants, and to use DNA for genetic studies, it needs to be purified. The bet way to purify DNA out of plants is to take tissue samples from the leaves and treat it with a bunch of chemicals to remove different elements from the DNA.

Unfortunately, some of my plants died and I needed more DNA. One of the other students was growing some plants in a growth chamber on the bottom floor of the building and told me I could take some young leaves to get some DNA samples, for which I was grateful.

Now, the Widstoe has two basements. I work on the upper basement, but the growth chambers are in the lower basement. So I took my DNA collecting tools and headed down one more flight of stairs to get my DNA samples.

When I got to the growth chamber, I noticed that the door was designed to be opened from both the outside and the inside, so one could step inside the growth chamber and shut the door and still get out all right. However, the next thing I noticed was that the inside door latch was broken, so I left the door slightly open and turned around to collect my tissue.

When I was abut halfway through, I heard voices and turned around to see two janitors inspecting the temperature controlling system of the growth chamber. They greeted me and continued on their way, and I went back to collecting tissue.

I finished up and turned to leave, only to discover, to my dismay, that the janitors had pulled the door shut when they left! Sadly, my assessment that the door wouldn't open from the inside was correct. I was locked in the growth chamber!

After studying the growth chamber, I determined that it could have been worse. There was ventilation, so I wouldn't suffocate, the temperature was tolerable and controlled, and there were quinoa plants I could eat if things really got desperate. I sat down and hoped to hear someone walk by soon.

Fortunately, I didn't need to test my growth chamber survival skills. After a short but unmeasured length of time, I heard voices in the hall an pounded on the door as hard as I could. It was the janitors again, and they were slightly chagrined to discover that they had locked me in. I was just glad that I didn't have to spend the night in there. I kind of wonder what would have happened if no one had walked by for the rest of the day- would a search party think to look on the first floor of the Widstoe?


Nasty Butler said...

That would terrify me.

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