A common theme within science is repeatability. Are you able to get that same result more than once? How do different variables effect your outcome? As most of you know, I work with the lovely Drosophila melanogaster. I have to admit that when I first starting working with them 2 years ago, I was a bit squeamish about them and thought my PI was the oddest person ever for talking about how beautiful / cute bugs were. Let me admit that I now say the same things over and over again.
Anyway my point is that in terms of replication I really only need to repeat an experiment 2 times. I used genetic crosses and stain about a shit load of progeny at a single time. In a single cross I"ll have the progeny of >15 different matings and stain about 15 experimental animals. I will then usually redo the cross with fresh parents another time or two to with make sure that the results are due to the genetic manipulation I've done and to get cleaner images (not pretty, cleaner ie less background, better tissues etc). Other times I'll be trouble shooting and once I've worked out the conditions, I will do stuff 2 times to make sure the result is true. I''m the first to admit that if the result is unexpected, I'm apt to repeat multiple times, just to be sure.
The thing is, I work on short time lines. Its easy to troubleshoot as you know your results quickly and can adjust for errrors in the protocol? I always wonder about longer term or epidemiological type studies. I've been reading alot about vitamin intake levels and how long terms studies have had to be halted because of increased mortality risks. A well publicized trial by NIH into estrogen replacement therapy was halted because the increased health risks were too great. I wonder how did they determine their protocols? How does once troubleshoot when the effects won't be seen till years down the road?
I often joke that my monkey is my own little experiment. In a sense he is, because we're raising him very differently than the way either myself or Mr.SM were raised. From his nutrition and activity levels, to the way he is disciplined and engaged with us and his surroundings. Whether this will result in more well-balanced and less crazy adult then either of us are (or our parents) is unknown. Have we made "grave" errors in our protocol that be won't known for a few years either? So how do make adjustments in our plan or do we just keep doing what we're doing with number 2? From the data, monkey seems like an easy going happy little boy (other than constantly escaping daycare...thats another post). So I guess that means we're on the right track and have nothing to worry about. Well at least thats what I'm going with . Number 2 will be our repeat experiment, though he/she does have the added variable of a mischievous older sibling.
In case I was a bit unclear up top. Yep in 9 months I will be raising my own little experimentS. Which is why I've been silent on the whole blogging front lately. I've had 0 energy....
3 days ago