It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you don’t want an experiment to work, do it in January. You arrive back from holidays to find the lab in ruins: a sort of post-apocalyptic era where B6 mice roam the halls; the CO2 tank hooked up to the incubator is broken (well, empty); and the refrigerator is making a bona fide attempt at freezing hell over. The lab gremlin has struck again!
How do you know if your lab has been the victim of gremlin attack? Here are some examples of lab gremlins at work while you’ve been away.
Can’t find that paper or protocol or product spec sheet that you need? LAB GREMLIN!
Is that reagent you reconstituted and aliquoted a month ago that is supposed to be good for 6 months now not working? Or missing? Or the box is there, but everything’s out of order? LAB GREMLIN!
Lab gremlins can uncalibrate equipment with just one look. Are you sure your pH meter/pipet/balance/everything is working? I’m pretty sure it isn’t anymore. LAB GREMLIN!
What about that unidentifiable smell that’s coming from the cell culture room? The lab gremlin has touched everything. All of your stuff is now unsterilized and growing more lab gremlins. Don’t ask how the lab gremlin did it; just burn everything.
The rational conclusion is the lab gremlin is the reason none of your experiments are working. I’ve tried explaining it to my supervisor, but he keeps looking at me funny.
Fortunately, there are two strategies that I’ve devised in order to avoid being a victim of the lab gremlin: either never go on holiday or take the entire month of January off.