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From Aliquotes Volume V Number xiii August/97 (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)
                            WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE

The Sciences are very jargon oriented and this can cause problems when
over-excited scientists carry on conversations in the real world... you
know, the one without the pipettes and shakers and chemical bottles.  The
following are three true stories.

                           Politically Corrects

Two young scientists, a student and a post-doc, had left the lab after
another succesfull day.  As they rode the local transit on their way home,
they began a rather animated discussion about the day's results and more
specifically about the success that one had with her gel retardation or
mobility shift assays.  On and on they went about the "retards" doing this
and the "retards" doing that when a woman across the aisle from them
finally turned in disgust and said: "The word is mentally handicapped and
it's not very nice to call them retards."  The two scientist were shocked
by this sudden outburst and the woman got off of the train before the two
could correct her on the subject to which they were referring.

                             The Cutting Edge

In a protein lab, it is common for people to set up their proteins as a
fusion with other domains which are easily purified through their affinity
to ligands attached to resin beads.  One of the most common of these
domains is the glutathione S-transferase protein or GST.  Typically, there
is a small linker region between the protein of interest and the fusion
parner and this amino acid sequence contains recognition sequences for
proteases.  After months in the lab, having limited success with her
proteolysis reactions, a young female grad student finally had her patience
and perseverence pay off when she destained yet another gel and saw that
her protein had indeed been cut by the protease.  In her joy, the young
woman ran out into the hallway, proclaiming proudly to all:
  "I've got cleavage.  I've got cleavage.  Come over here.  Look at my

                              A Graphic Plot

In another lab, on another day, yet another young, female graduate student
was working on a poster for presentation at an upcoming meeting.  She had
been using fluorescence to study the binding of a protein to its ligand and
had spent quite a bit of time getting just the right distribution of data
points for her graph.  After several days in front of the fluorimeter and
hours in front of the computer, plotting her data, she sat back in
satisfaction at her accomplishments.
Seeing one of the guys from her lab passing in the hallway, she called out
to him in a loud voice, "Hey come look at my figure.  Are these outstanding
curves or what?"  They were nice curves and she had a really nice figure.

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From: Aliquotes v.vi (journal) (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)
If it's NOT one thing, it's another

Your protein has NOT denaturated,
        it is simply structurally ambivalent.
Your DNA has NOT degraded,
        it is entropically exhuberant.
Your enzyme is NOT aggregated,
        it is monomerically challenged.
Your peptide has NPT precipitated on the column,
        it is merely elution reticent.
Your column resin is NOT compacting,
        it is being spatially frugal.
Your BamHI does NOT have star activity,
        it is simply expressing its individuality.
Your PCR products are NOT all mutant,
        they are just indulging in unscheduled evolution.
Your tissue culture is NOT contaminated,
        it is simply sharing living quarters.
Your computer has NPT crashed,
        it is merely being introspective.

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From: Aliquotes v.vi (journal) (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)
Toronto (ATP): Reports are slowly filtering in about an incident in a
Toronto lab where one technician found that extra hand which he had
requested from his boss, even though Human Resources was not involved.
They say that good help is hard to find, but not if you simply dig a little

                            THE ICE MAN COMETH

Here's a story that'll frost your test tubes.  The lab had been operational
for several years when the technician decided that they were going to need
to be able to put more than two sample boxes in the lab's -70 C freezer.
Unfortunately, this was going to mean cutting through several feet of ice.
As well, there was the serious danger of drowning as the ice began to melt
into the lab.  Thus, equipped with a hair dryer, hipwaders and aqualung,
the technician pulled the plug from the outlet and went to lunch while
waiting for the ice to begin to melt.  (As an aside, please note the use of
the hair dryer... this is how men defrost a freezer, unlike many women I
have known who attack the ice with a knife or screwdriver, often leading to
punctured freon tanks and larger ozone holes.)

Returning from lunch, the technician spent the first half hour apologizing
profusely to the graduate student whose sequencing gel he had turned off
when he pulled the plug for the power pack instead of the one for the
freezer.  After that, he pulled the correct plug and spent the next several
hours with the hair dryer pointed into the freezer and carefully pulling
small glaciers from the shelves and sides of the freezer.  As he proceeded
deeper and deeper into the various icy strata, the history of the lab began
to unfold.  Within the first foot, he began to uncover the now-soggy
cardboard storage boxes of the recently graduated students, unearthing
(de-icing?) a couple of years worth of work and a number of plasmid vectors
which the lab had given up on finding and had long ago reordered from the
supplier.  An hour or so into the work, he began to scrape the second foot
of ice away and saw initial signs of a large package under the ice, but the
frosting of the ice prevented him from immediately determining what it
was.  In the meantime though, he was able to free up some radiolabeled ATP
which was now colder than it's environment and there was a vial of
C14-labelled amino-acids which must have been a remnant of an early life
and defied dating even with the most modern techniques.  Another layer
down, and on his third sink of ice, the technician got closer to the
unidentified object locked in its frosty grave.  On the way, he then began
to pull out more sample boxes of people whose names the could't recognize
and small brown vials containing enzymes with a best before date which
predated him... not the date of his hiring, but his own age.  But still,
the icy object eluded extraction.

As afternoon gave way to evening, the technician could begin to make out
details on the alien in the freezer and he quickly began to realize that
the poor thing had a human form.  He increased his pace but still spent
several hours removing more ice before he could begin to free the poor
person from the ice.  Finally, he had removed enough that an arm fell free
of the ice and the hair dryer began to warm the flesh.  In less than an
hour, he had removed the last of the ice and the body fell to the floor,
shivering.  As the body warmed, its lips moved as though trying to speak.
It was another hour though, before words began to form.  The tech asked the
young man what had happened.  Slowly, and with great effort, the young
scientist began to speak.

"I was on my way to the freezer to get some more DNA for my crystallization
trials -- I think that I'm close to getting a structure, you know -- when I
got trapped.  I know I should have been using gloves, but I was in a
hurry.  I grabbed for a box at the back of the freezer when my arm hit the
side and got stuck.  Quickly the ice crystallized around me and someone
later came by, saw the door open and closed it without seeing that I was in
there.", he said, still shivering.  "By the way, how are McCarthy hearings
going, anyway?"

This was not going to be an easy one to explain to the boss.

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From: Aliquotes v.v (journal) (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)
                   You know your lab is too warm when...
1)  Your low melt agarose does.
2)  No matter how often you fill them, your ethanol bottels are always
3)  You can heat-shock your bacterial transformations on your bench.
4)  The gas from a bunsen burner spontaneously ignites.
5)  You put your plates in the incubator to cool down.
6)  Every time you open the fridge door, it rains.
7)  The urea in your sequencing gel mixes, goes into solution without
8)  A pellet of dry ice has a half-life of 12.3 seconds.
9)  The Taq polymerase begins to denature.
10) The glucose in the cupboard begins to caramelize.

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From: Aliquotes v.v (journal) (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)
                                  Cabin Fever

Every so often, a lab citizen can be struck with what is commonly referred
to as cabin-fever.  This condition often leads to a display of bizarre
behavior by the afflicted individual, often riveting the attention of
lab-mates and bystanders alike - (most disconcerting to the PI, general
progress in the lab can be severely affected).  Of course, it is well known
that these temporary bouts of lunacy are exacerbated by many things such as
malfunctioning fume-hoods, looming committee meetings, sub-cloning, and
gloves that cut off the circulation to the rest of your body.  But the
origin of this dangerous yet entertaining behavior is almost invariably
linked to sensization to the lab environment, usually as a result of
excessive experimentation.  Although the laboratory strain of cabin-fever
is not necessarily contagious, exposure can be dangerous.  (Sadly, even
pipette tips are harzardous when they fall into the wrong hands.)  For this
reason, we at *Aliquotes* have endeavored to provide you with some warning
signs that may protend a possible breakdown.  According to our guidelines,
it is advisable to vacate the lab if you notice your labmate doing any of
the following:

* Suddenly screams "Don't touch my tweezers!  I swear to (insert
  PC-sanctioned deity here) I'll *kill* you if you even look at my tweezers
* Spends the morning penciling in her name for all 365 days on the sign-up
  calendar by the HPCL machine.
* Starts extending the use of yellow post-it notes to delineate new
  territory in the lab.
* Is observed cradling a stir-bar while quietly muttering "They'll never
  get you my dear, you're my special one, my one and only and they can
  never take you away from me..."
* Takes his coffee break underneath is desk.  (Same place he keeps his
  tarot cards and palmistry book.)
* Roots around the garbage sobbing, "No, No! Come back!"
* Sits in front of the computer for days, endlessly changing the background
  colour on his slides.
* Looks up dirty words in the Swiss-protein data bank.
* Requires sunglasses if the curtains are opened in the lab.
* Starts an elbow fight with you because you are pipetting on her side of
  the lab.
* Autoclaves articles of your clothing when you don't strictly adhere to
  the schedule on the sign-up sheet.
* Scrawls the words "Lab Police" in magic marker on the back of his lab
  coat and starts using the butt of his pipetteman as a tool for law

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Special Category: How many scientists does it take to screw in a lightbulb
September 4
Q:  How many company biotechnologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A:  Four; one to write the proposal, one to design the bulb-changer, one to
    design the bulb-fetcher, and one to design the bulb.
Q:  How many freelance biotechnologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A:  One; he designs the bulb to crawl up the wall, unscrew the old one and
    screw itself in.
Q:  How many evolutionists does it take to change a light bulb?
A:  Only one, but it takes eight million years.

From: mjenson#NoSpam.silver.ucs.indiana.edu (Mike Jenson)

Q:How many fruit flies does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A:None.  Fruit flies don't screw in light bulbs they screw in fruit

chemistry biology
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From: Aliquotes v.ii (journal) (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)

In development,
     A new musical by
           Andy Wirld-Whyde Webber

                    And the amazing Technicolor Labcoat

   The story of a lonely MSc who is doted on by his supervisor, raising the
jealousy of his lab mates.  To show his pleasure with Yusef, the supervisor
creates for him a special lab coat covered with a variety of stains and
this technicolor lab coat sends his mates wild.  While on their way to a
lab products show, they trap Yusef in a cold room and sell him as summer
student labour to a passing post-doc.  Yussef works dutifully for his new
master until another post-doc in the same group covets Yusef but Yusef
rejects her advances.  This second post-doc is angered by Yusef's rebuff
and buggers up the work of the first post-doc, blaming it on Yusef.
   Yusef is then chained to his bench as a volunteer labourer until one
day, the Chair of the department walks by bemoaning a sub-cloning problem.
Yusef offers a piece of advice involving plasmid methylation and the Chair
tells his graduate students to check it out.  They succesfully sub-clone
the fragment and it turns out to be a novel gene.  To express his
gratitude, the Chair frees Yusef from his fetters and takes him under his
wing as protege.  Eventually, the Chair runs off to form his own compagny
and takes Yusef with him as Head of Research and Development.
   Years later, the lab mates from Yusef's original lab are about to finish
their degrees when their supevisor's grants run out and they are
destitute.  Yusef's old supervisor sends them to seek their fortunes in the
mystical land of Industry where they accidently meet on Yusef's doorstep.
They do not recognize Yusef although he knows them, but he takes pity on
them and sends for the old supervisor.  They are happily reunited and all
receive their degrees and, eventually, are tenured at al nearby university.

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From: Aliquotes iv.iii (journal) (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)
In the beginning, there was ...
*Biochemistry's greatest hits*. Now from *Kant tell records* comes the
followup album:


"Never on a sunday" by The Technicians
"Hi, Hi, Hi" by The Fume Sucker Four.
"Do You believe in magic?" by the Seminar Six
"Zhang-a-gong" by The Collum Driers
"One more Gel" by The Thesis Writers
"Scary Monsters, Super Freaks" by the Transgenics
"In the air tonight" by Nat and The Fumehoods
"G.I. Blues" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Sex is a Drug" by nanoMouskouri
"the end" from the movie "The Graduate"
"Light my fire" by Randy and the Bunsen Burners
"Another one bites the dust" by The Grant Reviewers
"It wont't be long" by The Committee
"I don't Remember" by The Reclassifiers
"I wanna be your man" by The Frustrated Fat Boys

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From: Aliquotes iv.iii (journal) (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)
The subtle irony of a neurotoxin like acrylamide is that you are the last
one to realize that you should have worn gloves.

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From: "robert portice" <brandonp#NoSpam.ptd.net>

what did the french biochemist do with his twins?  he baptised one and
saved the other for a control

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From: Aliquotes i.v (journal) (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)
                         THE GRADUATE GAME OF LIFE (?)
[Adapted for ASCII]
Rules: Using one die, move your game piece the number of spaces that the die
indicates and try to be the first to succesfully defend your graduate work.
It's not as easy as it looks.

|Welcome  ->->  |       |Cells didn't|Tube            |Cells not       |
|To square One  | -->   |   grow     |labelled Taq    |competent       |
|In the Graduate|       | miss a turn|is really ExoIII|Are you?        |
| Game of Life  |       |            |Miss 2 turns    |Go back 3 spaces|
|congratulations!|                                    |Controls didn't |
|You've graduated|                                    |work again.     |
|Run like hell,  |                                    |Go back 2 spaces|
|before they look|   --------------------------------------------------|
|too closely at  |   |You failed     |Leads backwards |course work     |
|at your thesis. |   | MCAT          |on gel box      |piles up.   <-  |
|----------------|   |Advance 1 space|Go back 3 spaces|Miss a turn     |
|Thesis rejected |   ---------------------------------------------------
|You're dejected |   |You failed     |
|Advance 2 spaces|   | LSAT          |
|----------------|   |Advance 1 space|
|Could not repeat| -----------------------------------------------------------|
|critical        | |You failed     |Too many exams|Found point|Read           |
|   experiment   | | PSAT          |to mark       |deletion   |sequencing gel |
|Advance 3 spaces| |Advance 1 space|Miss a turn   |Miss a turn|inverted       |
|----------------| -------------------------------------------|Go back 2spaces|
|Competitors     |                                          ------------------|
|scoop you on    |                                          |Subcloned PCR    |
|results         |                                          |product backwards|
|Advance 4 spaces|                                          |Miss a turn      |
|----------------| ------------------------------------------------------------
|Collaborator    | |Fell into coma while|Got drunk at party|Tuition due       |
|faked all data  | |  |    using ether  |  told of PI      |Miss 3 turns while|
|Advance 5 spaces| | \ /  Miss a turn   |Miss a turn       |working for summer|
|----------------| |-----------------------------------------------------------
|Your NMR sample | |         |          |
|is betalactamase| |        \ /         |
|Advance 6 spaces| |--------------------|-------------------------------------|
|----------------| |    Dropped flask   |Blotted gel onto|You passed the MCAT |
|      ^         | | -> of pure protein |paper towels    |Leave game now and  |
|     / \        | |    Go back 3 spaces|Go back 2 spaces|   be joyfull       |
|      |         | -----------------------------------------------------------|
|                |                                       |Ran air through     |
|----------------|                                       |sizing column       |
|Radiation badge |                                       |Go back 4 spaces    |
|lights          |                                       |--------------------|
|fluorescent     |                                       |Ultracentriguge tube|
|bulbes          |                                       |broke, lose sample  |
|Miss 3 turns    |                                       |Miss a turn         |
|----------------|                                       |--------------------|
|Computer crashes|                                       |You failed       |  |
|  lose notes    |                                       |MCAT again      \ / |
|Go back 3 spaces|                                       |Advance 1 space  .  |
|Writing you PI's|   Commitee member|You failed PSAT     |You failed          |
|grant proposal  |<- missed meeting |Getting desperate?  |LCAT again          |
|Miss 2 turns    |   Miss a turn.   |Miss a turn         |Advance 1 space     |

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