Hectic

It’s been over a month since I last put a post up, but I swore that if I didn’t have time I would make sure I blogged something after the wiki-freeze. Actually it’s a bit misleading to imply I haven’t had any time, I took two weeks off on the advice of a Doctor, two Professors and My Mum (you don’t ignore advice like that). Boy am I glad I did – iGEM life has been mental when I’ve not been taking time off it. I’d be misleading you again if I didn’t mention that I loved it anyway.

 

The last two weeks I spent in the lab (I call them Jill and Melinda) were chaotic. In a whirlwind of determined fourth attempts, unexpected successes and camaraderie, we all became slightly peculiar. There was a day when it was imperative that we spoke like farmers, and another day when we giddily carried out nearly 100 minipreps. Alex C. began to prod me conspiratorially at regular intervals. I gained a slight touch of paranoia that our faithful little E. coli which we boiled up for proteins would return from the dead on a destructive path of vengeance. Freddie and I once lost it completely and giggled wildly at Ryan because he was sitting on a chair. Ryan then made it his artistic pursuit to sit on the chair in a fashion befitting a physicist (he put his hands on his stomach and looked thoughtful). We all got disproportionately excited about running an SDS-PAGE. It all seemed reasonable at the time.

 

The preparation for the wiki-freeze was a similar experience, but since it was mostly carried out on computers from different locations, the hysteria was expressed more through YouTube videos and memes, which Ryan does as a matter of course anyway (it occurs to me that Ryan does a lot of things as a matter of course). I hope Ryan spends most of today in bed – he got very little sleep while putting the wiki together. Tom probably shouldn’t get out of bed either, I think the left-til-last-minute stress may have been too much for him.

 

What do I do with myself now? I’m expected to settle into uni life again? What is this?! I can’t cope with the inconsistency: a day should consist of going to the lab and seeing how long you can stay and how much you can achieve before you automatically get locked into a separate corridor from your house keys. On the plus side, we go to Amsterdam in a weeks time so it isn’t over yet, and what’s more I have a third year project in which, I am told, I will be taught cloning and PCR…heh heh heh.

 

 

Mary B.

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Homeopathic PCR

Anyone who has purified genomic DNA and tried to PCR a gene out of it will probably be familiar with the notion of diluting it a lot to get your gene out. Being undergrads, we were not. Having spent several intense days fruitlessly increasing the concentration of DNA to frantically try and get The Gene (a gene which we needed…four weeks ago) we went on the long pilgrimage to the interweb forums of sage advice.

Naturally, because it’s so obvious, if you want more product (or any, in our case) you reduce the amount of DNA. It didn’t work. We swallowed our pride and got help from Christine. (She always dresses so well, and seems to like purple. Kudos.) She told us you sometimes need about one part per million to get anything out. Homeopathic molecular biology! Crazy. Armed with this knowledge, we strode back into the lab and began the fight. The PCR machine broke.

We’re taking this all in our stride. This is meant to be the ‘Nothing’s done. Nothing works. It keeps going horrifically wrong. OhmygoshIamsuchafailureeveryonewillhatemebecauseIcan’tbiobrick’ stage. It’s cool. We deal with it. Because otherwise, we would go deranged and Freddie would start living on the doorstep of the innovation centre cafe like a peculiar moneyed tramp while Ryan…continued to be Ryan. In any case, Freddie and I had great success with our first construct. Did I mention? It was, like, sixty bases long? Or forty. Maybe more like two. And we still got them to stick together anyway. We’re amazing, we just need PCR machines to stop conspiring against us. The tossers.

Mary B.