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Lab Safety

Danger: You Might be Pipetting Yourself Out of a Job

You might be proud of your pipetting skills (if not, check this article on how to stop pipetting errors from ruining your experiments) and be churning out data faster than a liquid handling robot, but beware… you might also be pipetting yourself out of a job. I almost did. Pain due to pipetting is common.…

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Should children ever be in the lab?

Have you ever brought your children to the lab, or found your colleagues’ kids running around unexpectedly?  A research lab is a risky place to bring a kid, considering all the potential hazards.  In the UK, Health and Safety laws explicitly forbid the presence of children in the lab, because it is such a dangerous…

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Do Hand Sanitizer and Liquid Hand Soap Remove Viruses?

While reading my back issues of Applied and Environmental Microbiology (AEM), I came across an interesting paper that detailed an in-depth study on the effectiveness of hand cleaners to remove Norwalk virus (NV) from intentionally contaminated hands. Yes that’s right – intentionally contaminated, and how. The study volunteers allowed a 20% stool suspension containing Norwalk virus to be…

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10 Stupid Lab Safety Mistakes

Keeping safe in the lab really only requires one thing: common sense. But if you look at what people are doing in the lab, you might think that that common sense isn’t so common after all. What are the most stupid things you have seen people do in the lab to put the safety of…

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How to Create a Heatmap in Excel

Most available heatmap programs I’ve encountered cost too much, come bundled in a huge application, don’t do what I want, or don’t offer enough flexibility. In the previous article on heatmaps, I showed how you can use ASAP utilities to sort color-coded cells using this useful Excel Add-in. What I didn’t tell you is how…

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Warning: Dihydrogen Monoxide is Worse Than Ethidium Bromide

Please read and pass this life-saving information on to your friends. A chemical that all of us use in the lab has turned out to be highly dangerous. It is an asphyxiant, can cause severe burns and is a contributor to the greenhouse effect. Medical organizations all over the world confirm it to be responsible…

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Rookie Researcher Disasters

Wide eyed and wet behind the ears, the rookie researcher steps into the lab for the first time. Armed with several years’ knowledge mined from text books, lectures and undergrad labs he feels ready to take his place amongst the worldwide legions of scientists who battle daily in the pursuit of knowledge. Little does he…

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Ethidium Bromide: A Reality Check

The hysteria among molecular biologists about our old friend ethidium bromide has long been an irritation to me. Researchers are rightly wary of this potential carcinogen. More recently this wariness has been whipped up into a witch hunt by companies touting “safer” alternatives and disposal methods. While I don’t for a minute think that we…

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