There are certain expectations when you tell people you're doing a PhD that you're reasonably bright. I think a fair number of tax payers would be rather dismayed if they knew the reality. Someone came to service one of our centrifuges at work yesterday (comme ça). It's been playing up rather. We presented the technician with a list of problems, and hoped that he would be able to fix them. When he was finished, he called us in to explain what he'd done:
- The reason the display was in German, not English, was most likely because nobody had ever read the manual to see how to change it from the factory settings.
- The reason that the display was also virtually unreadable was not that the backlight had gone - someone had probably lent on the button that adjusts the contrast.
- It helps if you clean/oil the parts. Maybe weekly as he suggested. EVER would be a good start.
- He also retrieved a shard of plastic and a couple of wooden beads from the interior. The former may well have come from the time I set the machine spinnning without realising there was a loose tube inside. The latter was definitely from when one of my colleagues changed the sticky mat next to the machine and jumped up and down on the clean layer* with such enthusiasm that her necklace snapped.
All things considered, I'm not sure that the future of biomedical research is in safe hands.
*It sounds childish, but I bet you'd do the same if you were there.