Thursday, 25 August 2016

One laboratory, en suite sauna

In lieu of an actual proper scientific blogpost this week, here I recount a recent lab horror story that struck me. With thanks to my labmates sending me the freezer traces:
Sunday evening. Kicking back at home, something vaguely distracting on the telly. Doing the chores, which on this occasion included last minute packing in preparation for storing our belongings before leaving the country. Everything was all on track for a nice quiet and productive night in. Until a phone vibrates.
20:08, G: “Hello team. Freezer temp has alarmed at -59 just now. Anyone using it? Anyone around in lab?
Hmm that's a bother. Hopefully someone's just pulling a long weekend shift, maybe came in to bank a long point in a time course and was just being a bit slow to close the freezer after. If that's the case then they'll close it and this will blow over. Let's just wait a while and see who's there...anyone?
20:15, D: “The other freezer in that room is reading -62, might just be hot in there
Oh bugger, now they're both going. Luckily these alerts also go to a lab manager, he's a good guy, always on the ball, he'll sort it.
Except nope, no reply. Wait, is that it levelling out?
Hope indeed!
21:04, G: “sorry to report, there was no plateau - i think we have to do something tonight
Double bugger, because guess who lives closest?
21:19, me: “I am nearby
21:20, me: “If emergency action is called for
In I go, let's see how bad it is on the ground... And it's sweltering. No AC. No air movement. A small room with six giant -80s, all shrieking in concert if not in sync.
The blue ribbon rises as the sweat rolls down...
Running around, begging security for help, ringing managers, moaning on Whatsapp, come on come on, let's check the thermometer again...
It would have kept rising except here I propped open the fire door from the freezer room into the neighbouring lab, corridor, and convinced security to come and open the fire door to outside for a moment, giving a few blessed minutes of relief.