• Question: Has anything gone really wrong with a science experiments.

    Asked by dear11ted on 4 Feb 2022.
    • Photo: Melissa Hess

      Melissa Hess answered on 4 Feb 2022:

      Not as fun answer: Yes, a few times. I found out we were measuring some temperatures wrong, and it resulting in a lot of math and work to figure out what had gone wrong, and was a huge headache. Another time I found out that my detector was off, and it took me a month to figure it out, fix it, and then keep it from happening again. We had to redo a lot of work.

      The fun answer: I absolutely blew something up in grad school. Fortunately I wasn’t hurt, and ever since, I have never, ever mixed jet fuel, heat, and pure oxygen.

    • Photo: Lauren Haygood

      Lauren Haygood answered on 4 Feb 2022:

      Yes. There have been times when we messed up with our calculations, and found out our results needed to be re-calculated (not the worst thing to happen, but definitely a headache with lots of samples!). Another time was while doing plant sample digestions (turning plant samples into liquid)- the pressure build-up in one digestion tube was too much and resulted in the liquid sample shooting out (luckily, the tube was pointed away from me, and it was all contained in a fume hood).

    • Photo: Leah Sutton

      Leah Sutton answered on 4 Feb 2022:

      Of course! Mistakes are how we learn. Thankfully no one has ever been hurt while making any of the mistakes I have been involved with but lots of money and time have been wasted. When I first started in the current position I am in I was tasked with looking into how to make an old separator tank that was intended to separate oil from water function again. I spent a lot of time researching and talking to experts ultimately purchasing an additional piece of equipment for about $13,000 (which is a lot of money to me and you but not so much in corporate America) that I thought would surly at least make the separator work to some degree. I was wrong. The tank worked even worse than it did with the new equipment and was much harder to maintain. Total failure. Later I came to find the tank was just designed wrong and would never work for our purposes no matter what I did.

    • Photo: Kaveri Sawant

      Kaveri Sawant answered on 5 Feb 2022:

      Yes! All the time – science experiments are a lot of trial and error.

    • Photo: Phu Phan

      Phu Phan answered on 7 Feb 2022:

      Too many that I don’t want to bring back, but those mistakes can help me to analyze and identify which direction to go further experiments. It’s nothing wrong with having multiple failed experiments, it’s about how we can do with it.