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The experiment gremlins

Things we’re looking good. They were, but the longer the experiment the more gremlins come out. If you’ve ever done any sort of research you’re familiar I’m sure. You test and retest equipment over and over, but no matter how many times everything looks happy, well the day of the experiment everything goes wrong that can go wrong. It’s amazing we can even do science with our little gremlin pals just waiting for us to try it.

I would like to say the experiment went off without a hitch. That things went smoothly, the data looked great, and I could’ve taken a nap at about the fourth hour into it. However, things are never that easy and no matter how many times we try to prepare and fix and make, something has to go wrong. Now, that’s not to say we didn’t get what we needed/wanted, but it was a struggle and unruly equipment was the bulk of the problem.

Like it or not we live in a digital world and while some are worried that technology will become sentient and enslave the human race, I’m here to say, “maybe, but not today.” I mean as much as I love science and technology I would not feel comfortable getting, for example a brain computer interface implant. Not because I’m worried that they will just use it to inundate you with ads (because let’s be real, that’s the real future we’re headed to), but it’s because technology is unreliable.

Let me put it this way, I’ll feel like we’re all ready for brain implants when my wifi router doesn’t require me to restart it randomly. I think as a researcher, we have a unique perspective about this hyper technological idea of the future because we are using incredibly advanced, very specific equipment in research. The stuff needs to be high quality, it’s not something you can piece together (okay aside from the basic stuff I do) and it costs, a lot. It’s purpose made, it has one specific job (or set of jobs) and it does the thing it’s made to do well, or at least that’s the theory.

In reality when things work great, they are amazing. Unfortunately, for whatever reason (gremlins, I’m telling you now!) life may find a way, but technology does not. Maybe it’s too much pressure to put on a poor piece of digital machinery, but like I’ve said, experiments never work the way you plan them to, no matter how much testing happens.

For example, yesterday I was incredibly thrilled with the fact that I had everything talking together like it should. We are collecting data on three separate systems and they need to be time locked, meaning we need a way to align the data. I came up with what I thought was a great way of doing it, and it worked well! Yesterday that is.

Today things started off surprisingly smooth, then it went downhill from there relatively quickly. Things stopped talking to each other, software crashed, and our elegant solutions to all of last weeks problems amounted to absolutely nothing for this week. Now like I said, we did it, we got the data and while it’s not pretty and it’s not as much as we were hoping for, it’s enough for now.

The last two experiments were “bonus” experiments anyway that we’re not paying for so any good data is a good outcome and we got plenty of good and exciting data. So now I have a rather large mountain of very unorganized data to get organized. The data aren’t quite as bad as the data I collected for my PhD a month (two?!) ago, but they are still a mess.

Thankfully it’s Friday so I’ll get the weekend to recharge and hopefully Monday will bring good news. I’m excited about the data, I really am, but I am thoroughly exhausted.


2 responses

  1. The test system I use at work has been very … finicky as well. Though part of our trouble is that it has many users who are all constantly debugging and developing their part of it, so there are a lot of interrelating pieces managed by different people and nothing stays the same for very long. Between that and the fact that we sometimes have to move it or swap parts in and out to do different tests, there are a lot of opportunities for things to break.

    Maybe that’s why your system got gremlins – you put it away and got it out again. Haha.

    Now that you have both sets of preliminary data, I hope your next week won’t be so exhausting.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 24, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    • Oh that’s wild. I still can’t believe you can build something that actually works in an environment like that. Further proof you’re a wizard I guess.

      Ha maybe we should just start sleeping with the equipment nearby in case of gremlin attack.

      Thanks! I’m hopeful too. I’m definitely getting a small break especially since it’s been so hectic. Unfortunately, with summer here we have people in the lab planning vacations and what not, so I suspect that things won’t be slow for long.

      Liked by 1 person

      June 25, 2022 at 2:35 pm

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