Friday, August 21, 2009

The Pains and Pleasures of Scientific Research

It is Friday afternoon. Twice this week I had to stay at the University Pharmacology lab until 2 AM in order to finish the last trial on my 16-hr pretreatment assay on neuroblastoma cells. Not to mention that the following day I had to be at the lab at 9AM to set the second part of the experiment (cell stimulation with a variety of drugs) which goes for 3 hours straight. The third and last part of the experiment requires an extra 5 hours of work (non-stop!), plus 6 hours for the scintillation analyser to finish counting the radioactivity of the 168 samples collected. I have to complete that three times, analyse the data of radioactive counts, and work out what to do next for the second phase of my project :)

Research is hard work. I had underestimated that - and now I have to keep drinking the habitual morning and afternoon coffees to make it through the day. But in spite of the fact that I am working by myself in the lab for such long periods of time, I am loving every bit of it. It is quite painful and tedious at times, but inherently it has this internal beauty, a magnificent preciseness mixed with an unsatisfied longing for answers and unseen implications.

Scientific research is quite fascinating, teasing the mind, asking questions in order to understand and admire the complexity of Nature, even if it is trapped in a Petri dish or cell culture flask. Science is fun, and it ought to be so :)

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