The looooong experiment
Ever have one of those nights where you KNOW that tomorrow you have a huge thing going on and for whatever reason, you just CANNOT sleep to save your life? Maybe it was because every few minutes I was reminded of something I needed to do prior to the experiment, or maybe it was just because there was already so many things left undone. Whatever the reason, what should’ve been a day for me to get a full night’s rest turned into what amounts to a power nap.
It’s been weeks building up to today and the reason this post is coming even later than usual. My day started before the sun came up, but really the previous day ended just a few hours before the start of today. I may have gotten a few hours of sleep… I think… if I’m lucky? Not that it mattered, the experiment has come and gone now. It’s all done and over with, so let’s talk about how it went!
Fair warning it was a roughly 13 hour day and so if this post feels disjoint or hard to follow (well, harder than normal I would assume) then I’m blaming it on the fact that I’ve been, at certain points of the day literally running to get to different parts of the hospital. Basically it was a very long, very intense day and that about sums it up, but we can probably go into a bit more detail.
Okay, my day started about hour hours earlier than my “normal” work day. Which was nice for parking and traffic, but that’s about it. The sun wasn’t up and there was work to do. First on the long list of prep, was the fact that I needed to make several connectors. Basically some early morning soldering work, nothing too time consuming, but time was not something I had a whole lot of to begin with.
Then came the coding that still needed to happen. No time for full tests and validation! No, we’re doing it live. So I had to quickly rough out everything we needed that I couldn’t get done yesterday. While it didn’t all get resolved, I’m happy to say that the bulk of it was successful and it did what I needed it to do. Which was a theme. There was just a ton of different pieces that needed to come together today and they all did, just not exactly the way we hoped.
We had a very limited schedule to get in, get the stuff we wanted, and get out. We managed to get most, but not all of our experimental “wish list” done. But these experiments are very time consuming and anytime you’re working with a big group like this, it’s a lot of moving parts. Sometimes things didn’t go our way. There were schedule delays, equipment troubles, and just a bunch of things that really held us up. While it wasn’t a, everything that could go wrong, did type of situation, the theme was we didn’t have a whole ton of time and we needed every second of it.
The tricky part of it was that I had conflicting things. The experiment today bumped into another experiment I needed to be doing. Luckily I got some help, but I had to step out of one experiment and get across the hospital to get equipment, then to another part of the hospital for the experiment. Oh, but it gets better, I realized we were using some of the equipment in the really long experiment that we needed for this late afternoon one. Which meant running back to the first experiment, then to the afternoon experiment, setup, explain to my labmate how to run it, then run back to the long experiment.
If that sounds complex and hard to keep up with, well then you’re got it right.
The unfortunate part about these experiments, and we have another one in a few weeks, is that there’s a lot of teardown and cleanup. So after about 12 hours or so I had to tear it all down and pack everything away. Okay, well I tore it all down, and I had help (but it’s my responsibility), but I did absolutely nothing to clean up, organize, and pack it all away again. So our lab looks like an explosion of wires hit. There’s wires everywhere, cables everywhere, and equipment in pieces.
However, there’s good news. The experiment went well! We got of data, way more data than I was expecting and a whole hell of a lot more of the experiments done than I had expected we could do.. I mean I’m exhausted. Aching to the bone tired. It was basically 36 hours nonstop (slightly exaggerating, but not as much as I wish I was). Still, I’ve made it to the other side, had a somewhat enjoyable (if not incredibly stressful) time with my friends/colleagues/coworkers, and we’re making slow, but steady progress to building up that infamous nature paper I keep saying I want to publish.
I’m really happy it’s over though. I’m especially looking forward to sleeping for the next few days and just not moving for a few days. Data processing can wait, dissertation can wait, everything can wait. I need at least a day off.