Lab Bloopers Galore

Readers reveal research mishaps

Apr 24, 2015
Jenny Rood

WIKIMEDIA, UC DAVIS COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

After scientists shared memorable accidents, mistakes, and errors from their laboratory experiences on Reddit last week, The Scientist asked readers to share a #labblooper or two. Here are some reader responses from Twitter and Facebook:

Agar disasters

Tina Loane Peterson: “Automated agar plate dispenser mishap. The gasket was not correctly aligned in the reassembled machine. I set up to make a batch of plates and went to lunch. Returned to a room looking like Slimer attacked it. I had to clean agar off of the ceiling!”

Charli Evans: “As an undergrad I once lifted a Petri dish in excitement, the lid fell off, and the agar fell onto my face . . . complete with unidentified bacterial snot.”

Flames and fumes

William Chan: “Nothing worse than setting your bench on fire when ensuring the ethanol is sterile during RNA extraction.”

Shyanne Page: “Lit an ETOH covered bead on fire to sterilize it and accidentally dropped it on a Kim wipe. Instant fire!”

Alexander Weixelbaumer: “An ex-colleague didn't secure the valve on his HCl gas bottle correctly. Over night the whole lab was gently flooded with the extremely corrosive gas. The ventilation wasn't strong enough and all electronic equipment was damaged beyond repair.”

Simon Wheeler: “Once inhaled way too much acetyl nitrate while analysing fatty acids. Like inhaling all the malt vinegar in the world in one go!”

Radioactive gaffe

Jacqui Lee Mendez-Johnson: “Spilled radioactive buffer while in the cold room spilling all over myself and shoes; panicked and ran down the hallway requiring the entire wing of the building being blocked off for days for decontamination.”

Lasting reminder

Marcel Kap: “Tried to dispose of H&E staining solutions. Dropped the 10L waste jerry can on the floor. Floor still purple.”