Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Lab clothes

Sometimes it’s really hard to be a female scientist. At least, it’s hard to look pretty while being a female scientist. The Doktah, in particular, discovered a few problems with certain outfits while working in the lab. She suggests that you not wear angora, as the angora sheds and the fibers float around in the air, inevitably settling in your microscope samples. Also, makeup with any kind of shimmer or sparkles can really screw up your fluorescence microscopy because sparkles fluoresce. The Doktah learned this the hard way when she inadvertently used sparkly nail polish to glue a coverslip down to a slide. This is a legitimate use for nail polish; the quick-dry nail polish is perfect for gluing coverslips. But avoid sparkles. Trust me.

It can also be difficult to keep clothes clean in the lab, what with all of the chemicals and whatnot. One day, The Doktah was wearing a nice outfit and she had to empty the cell culture waste vessel and refill it with bleach. Because she was looking so pretty, she asked Baseball Cap Guy if he would mind refilling it with bleach so she could avoid getting stray bleach droplets on her clothes. Baseball Cap Guy kindly obliged, but when he got a little bit of bleach on his hands, he shook them dry, showering The Doktah with droplets of bleach.

The Doktah also had trouble with non-traditional lab chemicals like Diet Coke. I’ve alluded to The Doktah’s Diet Coke addiction, and she herself has commented on it, describing her attempt to fill a hamster water bottle with Diet Coke so that she could lap at it while sitting at her desk. This was partly a desire to be able to drink without having to stop typing, partly just for fun. (It’s the first “partly” that’s the scary one, though.) Anyway, it turned out to be a terrible idea, because the carbonation in the Diet Coke lifted the little ball which keeps the liquid from pouring out, thus breaking the seal, and twenty ounces of Diet Coke gushed out all over The Doktah’s khaki pants.

She was sure they were ruined, but the weird thing is that once the Diet Coke dried, there was no stain! And Diet Coke has no sugar, so it wasn’t sticky either. It was as if the spill hadn’t happened. Later that year, Big Sisiter #2 spilled Diet Coke on herself at a family function, and I said, “Don’t worry. Diet Coke just disappears.” She doubted me, but twenty minutes later, her skirt was clean.

Diet Coke: It stains your teeth, but not your pants.

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