• Question: What's the weirdest/funniest thing that has happened when you were working?

    Asked by daviesl3 to Amit, Emily, Joanne, Martin, Paige on 18 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Paige Brown

      Paige Brown answered on 18 Mar 2012:

      Lol! One time I was running a big experiment using nanoparticles on cancer cells. The day after I treated my cells, I looker under the microscope and saw what looked like tiny worms swimming around! I’m sure that they were bacteria that had contaminated my sample because someone opened the lid to the cell platter when they weren’t supposed to… you have to be very careful when using a live cell sample to keep everything sterile.

      Another time, we were testing silver nanoparticles on crawfish… and the crawfish turned blue!!!! He was fine, just walking around in his cage all blue instead of red!

    • Photo: Emily Bullen

      Emily Bullen answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      I’ve had a few encounters with the fire brigade…
      We get trained every 3 years to use all kinds of fire extinguishers (the water type, foam, carbon dioxide and powder). This happens right by a canal, and one day the wind was going towards the canal. That means that white looking powder got blown that way, and sent all sorts of people in a panic! They knew that we make drugs on the site, so thought we had by mistake let loads of it out… it took a lot of explaining…
      Another time we were working with a chemical that smells just like household gas (in fact, did you know, the gas used for your cooker doesn’t have a smell, this chemical is added to it so that you can detect a leak). We had to warn the local fire brigade that we were going to use it, because you can smell the smallest amount in the air, and if something went a tiny bit wrong we would have had the whole town thinking they had a gas leak!
      My colleague told me of a time when some detergent was added to a water supply by accident… this went to a cooling tower (the big wide circular towers you might see, with steam coming out the top)… well in this case bubbles came out of the top!! It took a lot of cleaning up…

    • Photo: Martin Wallace

      Martin Wallace answered on 19 Mar 2012:

      (this is a really big secret so make sure you don’t tell anyone!)

      When I worked as an engineer making satellites, my dad asked me if I could name something after him so that he could say there was something with his name on in space. I wasn’t that important then so wasn’t allowed to name anything – however one day I was asked to print out some labels to go on part of the satellite. I thought ‘here’s my chance’, so in very small writing, I put his name – Glen – at the bottom of one of the stickers. I made sure that this label was put onto one of the satellites and it got sent off to Russia to be launched.

      I was so proud of myself and couldn’t wait to tell my Dad I’d succeeded…

      …however a few weeks later I found out that one of the rockets had a problem during the launch and had to abort, which meant the satellites were lost. There was no way of me knowing which satellites had made it into space and which hadn’t.

      When I told my Dad what had happened he thought it was really funny that either his satellite was going to be orbiting the planet for many years to come, transmitting important data back to the earth… or sat quietly on the floor of the Pacific ocean!

    • Photo: Joanne Davies

      Joanne Davies answered on 20 Mar 2012:

      Mmm engineers are the weirdest things sometimes. 🙂