So, do you ever miss the lab?

I was talking to someone during the day job and it transpired that we were both escapees from science. We had both left molecular biology and gone on to do other things where the science knowledge is only tangentially relevant. After a few minutes comparing notes, she said, a little wistfully, “Do you ever miss the lab? I do.”

This got me thinking about the influence the science grounding has had on me. Most obvious is the level of detail I go into when my kids ask questions like ‘what’s spit made of?’. Tyke No 1 knows all about saliva and lysozyme, even if she can’t pronounce it.

The lab training comes out from time to time without my even noticing, usually in the kitchen. I still measure liquids from the bottom of the meniscus and flick the air bubbles out of the calpol syringe to get a full dose. Then there’s the   fondness for anti bacterial sprays, the almost obsessive hand washing and the funny attitude to food that’s fallen on the floor.

What I really miss the equipment. Not the big stuff, like autoclaves and waterbaths – although they’re fun. It’s the little things. Again, I usually think of them when I’m in the kitchen.

Top 5 things from the lab that I wish I had at home.

1. Saran wrap – big, BIG, superwrap. None of this cling to itself, but slide off your sandwiches nonsense. If you wrap something in Saran wrap, it stays wrapped.

2. Parafilm – strong, stretchy sealing film. This is exactly what I need to stop my spices losing their smell and flavour. Also handy for sealing small tupperwares that I’ve lost the lids for/accidently deformed in the microwave. Or making mini drums for the kids.

3. Heated magnetic stirrer plates. Self heating, self-stirring soup. Ah the possibilities.

4. Liquid nitrogen – makes the creamiest ice cream. And it can turn a banana into a hammer. Can an ice cream maker do that? I don’t think so.

5. Dry ice – turns the washing up bowl into a mass of witchy smoking bubbles. What’s not to like?

Hmm… maybe I’ll set the next novel in a lab. (Update: I did. Doctor January is set in a microbiology lab.)

8 thoughts on “So, do you ever miss the lab?

  1. ref: banana hammers. Useful for one blow only so surely for comedy value only, not much cop for major construction projects.
    Also, remember that playing with dry ice and hot water can set off the smoke alarms in university labs. Apparently (whistles…)


  2. Rhoda, this is hysterical. I love it! And thanks for the comment on my Romantic Fiction post. I’ll check out the loaf slicing explanation. I’m hungry for more information on this (to further perpetrate the science/food connection 🙂
    Georgina Young-Elliis


  3. Well said that woman 🙂 am sure I still have a twitchy magnetic bean somewhere if you ever get round to the soup ;o)
    I miss my autoclave on these cold mornings – nothing warms a lab up quicker than 6 bench-tops all on full steam 🙂 x


  4. Well, cooking is a type of science, so I’m not surprised that lab equipment would be useful in the kitchen! My scientist ex made himself a rather nice spice rack out of test tubes.


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