The Inventory

or: The Afterlife of Lab Equipment

3 cell culture hoods (2 without key)
2 centrifuges
2 tables (drawers missing)
1 chair
2 shelves
4 incubators (rusty, but clean, all shelves washed and autoclaved)
2 water baths (encrusted with limescale, even after a week of acetic acid treatment)
2 chests of drawers
1 microscope (without bulb)
1 vacuum pump (NEW!!! :))
1 fridge
1 freezer

This inventory sums up my last month’s worth of work. It may not seem impressive, but there it is. For me, every one of those items represents a small victory. You see, for my postdoc, I got my very own, private cell culture room, but unfortunately no budget for equipment… However, as a resourceful scientist with an empty room and no money I decided to negotiate and scavenge, two expertise I had exquisitely mastered during my PhD. Negotiating got me a decent vacuum pump. Scavenging got me the rest. Continue reading


My nerdy Christmas wish for 2013

Dear Santa,

Every year a creative lab somewhere in the world makes a great nerdy spoof video of some current hit, bringing a smile to the faces of stressed, overworked PhD students and postdocs (and also others, including lazy bums like me, who procrastinate by surfing the web and checking out youtube videos ;)). Continue reading

Chekhov’s gun

a.k.a. applying the Russian method to scientific writing

About 150 years ago, there lived a man in Russia, whose name was Anton Chekhov. He was a doctor by training, but also happened to write some really amazing fiction (and also non-fiction, actually). Furthermore, he formulated a dramatic principle called Chekhov’s gun, which states: “remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

According to the principle of Checkov's gun you should not introduce an element into a narrative, unless it is necessary for the story to proceed.

According to the principle of Checkov’s gun you should not introduce an element into a narrative, unless it is necessary for the story to proceed. Picture courtesy of luckyfish @ flickr.

The last few weeks I have been thinking about this principle a lot, while I’ve been rewriting a paper for review. Continue reading