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I just...destroyed something


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#1 MyProteinBulliedMe

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 07:56 PM

I'm a tech.

I just destroyed a GE Superdex 200 16/60 column. I was repacking it, somehow over-tighten that thing, and the glass tube end cracked (and eventually broke).

On the better side of it, the replacement glass tube is "only" $189 and I don't have to rebuy the whole $2000 column, but I lost about 15% of resin (so total is ~$400)and I feel very horribly horrible because the whole point of the mistake is that I feel that I was being careless. I was lacking knowledge that the glass is very fragile, that it shouldn't be overtigthen (the manual said it), but somehow I gave it too much power and overtighten it. Holy shit I even had a gut feeling not to do it, but I still did it and it cracked :(((

If I could, I'm going to pay for both the glass tube and resin out of my own pocket, since this is 100% my fault, but would it be proper to tell my supervisor that I would pay?

#2 casandra

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 08:27 PM

I'm a tech.

I just destroyed a GE Superdex 200 16/60 column. I was repacking it, somehow over-tighten that thing, and the glass tube end cracked (and eventually broke).

On the better side of it, the replacement glass tube is "only" $189 and I don't have to rebuy the whole $2000 column, but I lost about 15% of resin (so total is ~$400)and I feel very horribly horrible because the whole point of the mistake is that I feel that I was being careless. I was lacking knowledge that the glass is very fragile, that it shouldn't be overtigthen (the manual said it), but somehow I gave it too much power and overtighten it. Holy shit I even had a gut feeling not to do it, but I still did it and it cracked :(((

If I could, I'm going to pay for both the glass tube and resin out of my own pocket, since this is 100% my fault, but would it be proper to tell my supervisor that I would pay?


Are you sure that it wasn't a manufacturing defect? ;) Actually, I've never heard of anyone paying for something they broke in the lab but you can always make the offer. Or pay for it in some other way....These things happen and you can beat yourself up as much as you want but the important thing is that we learn from these mistakes...and lesson number one: glass breaks, lesson number two: follow your instinct... :D.....so cheer up MPBM....btw, what's FML?

Edited by casandra, 21 December 2010 - 08:32 PM.

"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#3 MyProteinBulliedMe

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Posted 21 December 2010 - 11:21 PM

FML means "f*** my life" it's an internet slang expression like "lol" but it's for something significantly bad that happens to you. E.g. breaking an S200 column.

Thanks for the input Casandra! I don't think it's a manufacturing defects because we've been using this thing since...so many years ago (5-7). The part that's broken is the bottom part in which it was fine before, but I got something stuck in there (couldn't reach it using pipet) so I had to open the bottom part. Then when I close it, I think I might've tightened it too much and it started to crack. And I just remembered my supervisor kind of said, "if it's possible don't open the bottom part" looooong time ago (which I forgot...), which "cracking" might be the cause why. So since he DID tell me that I'll pay for it.

Despite everything else that I could do to repay (e.g. work overtime/mop the floor/walk his dog) I just personally don't feel right if I don't pay for something I think I'm being careless for.

#4 casandra

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 01:59 AM

:P sorry I have to take a refresher course on internet slang ...and I vote for walking his dog and picking up his stuff at the cleaners....seriously, how did he react when you told him about the cracked glass? He freaked out? You're being too hard on yourself probably?
"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#5 hobglobin

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 02:11 AM

Don't you have a glass breakage insurance? here some (but not all) pay this and some students really needed it for practical courses, not to go bankrupt later... ;)
Some universities offer them, and some companies have it in their household insurance or general liability insurance. But this is for Germany, don't know about other countries.

One must presume that long and short arguments contribute to the same end. - Epicurus
...except casandra's that belong to the funniest, most interesting and imaginative (or over-imaginative?) ones, I suppose.

That is....if she posts at all.


#6 MyProteinBulliedMe

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 02:13 AM

Hahaha I'll walk his dog and pick stuff at cleaners if he wants me to. But he hasn't know yet because he's on vacation for couple weeks, I really don't want to tell him any bad news on his vacation and make him feel worried. I don't know, I guess I'll just continue working on my projects and tell him good news about it instead of ruining his vacation with bad news.

Besides there's nothing we can do anyway, I can't buy glass (everything is closed till next year). The most important thing now is that the resin is fine in 20% ethanol, I just need to make sure it doesn't go bad, since it's the most expensive stuff.

#7 MyProteinBulliedMe

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 02:16 AM

Don't you have a glass breakage insurance? here some (but not all) pay this and some students really needed it for practical courses, not to go bankrupt later... ;)
Some universities offer them, and some companies have it in their household insurance or general liability insurance. But this is for Germany, don't know about other countries.


Unfortunately no :(

#8 mdfenko

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 07:56 AM

do you have any "retired" 16/60 columns (regardless of packing)? if so, then unpack one and use it to repack the superdex. if it was also a superdex column then you can clean some of the old packing and add it to yours to make up for the lost material (make sure you "define" all of the matrix before repacking or your flow rates and pressures will suffer).

what was it that was trapped in the column that couldn't be reached by pipette? you should have removed it by flushing the column, with water (or 20% ethanol), into a beaker or flask and prepared the matrix for repacking (once you remove or disturb a significant portion of packing you should repack the entire column or you end up with uneven packing).

over the years, you will damage or lose a lot of things in the lab, some more costly (and dangerous) than others (wait until you bend a centrifuge spindle, dent a rotor or send a rotor flying around the room). you may feel guilty and want to pay for your mistakes but it is not practical. i'm not saying to be careless or cavalier about it but don't beat yourself up about it either. just make sure you learn from your mistakes so that they are not repeated and use them to illustrate when teaching new labmates (we kept a "museum" of things not to do).

Edited by mdfenko, 22 December 2010 - 07:57 AM.

talent does what it can
genius does what it must
i do what i get paid to do

#9 lab rat

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Posted 24 December 2010 - 05:46 AM

Ditto what mdfenko said. As a naturally clumsy person (I have broken everything from beakers to a flow cytometer), I can confirm that the important thing is to NOT break it a second time. Try explaining to your boss why you broke a pH meter electrode, twice, in one week!
42..."An immutable fixed-precision number of unlimited magnitude." <a href="http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia....amming_language)</a>, accessed 25June2009.

#10 mdfenko

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Posted 24 December 2010 - 08:07 AM

i just found this article at bitesize bio (make sure you also read the comments).
talent does what it can
genius does what it must
i do what i get paid to do

#11 MyProteinBulliedMe

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 08:07 PM

Our lab doesn't have a retired 16/60, nor does any other lab that's not on vacation (I've asked about 5 labs). Hopefully when vacation end, one lab may have a retired column that they want to give/sell for cheaper price. (Btw does anyone here have one?)

I've tried using pipet (big 25ml one) but can't reach it, tried kind of turning it upside-down couple of times with water inside but it's still stuck, therefore I opened the bottom. The thing that stuck was the filter-like thing from the top which stuck on the resin, and if it's stuck there it will mess up the whole column, and the top won't have a filter. I'm sure if I turn it upside down longer it will be loose, but I didn't know that the bottom will be that delicate (cracked by just opening it).

For the lost material, we have extra 15ml clean one which is exactly the same volume as what I've lost.

Those accidents in bitesize bio looks terribly bad too..especially the centrifuge (that's why I always always balance everything on digital weigh machine).

#12 Maddie

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 11:57 AM

Hi MPBM, I also agree with mdfemko, accidents happen. I'm sure your supervisor had other broken stuff in the past.
I wouldn't pay for it though. 400 $ isn't much for a lab (usually) but it's a lot for a student, right?
We all broke something one day. Hmm maybe we should make a post about it. I recently broke the clock that was on my wall while trying to catch it to change the battery. I also almost broke a freezer mill (very expensive) because a sample got stuck in the tube. That was bad and very stinky :P .
Don't beat yourself up.
Theory is when we know everything and nothing is working. Practice is when everything is working and nobody knows why. Here, we combine theory and practice. Nothing is working and nobody knows why.

A. Einstein

#13 MyProteinBulliedMe

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 03:34 PM

Yeah, I learned to not do it again, e.g. by not messing up with any expensive eq without my supervisor there.

A post about "stuff you've broken recently" would be interesting to see what others have broken (and we can learn how to not break another)

#14 Maddie

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 06:51 AM

Is your boss back? How did he react?
Theory is when we know everything and nothing is working. Practice is when everything is working and nobody knows why. Here, we combine theory and practice. Nothing is working and nobody knows why.

A. Einstein

#15 MyProteinBulliedMe

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 06:50 PM

I called him, and then he just said "I see. Don't do it again. Oh btw how is that experiment about bla bla bla ?" and then we continued to talk about that experiment for 30 minutes. He also refused the offer for paying money. He didn't seem to make a huge deal about it o_O




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