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Hall of Shame

Does blowing a church off of the planet count as an "oops"?
If it was on purpose?

 Quote by Danger Does blowing a church off of the planet count as an "oops"? If it was on purpose?

Recognitions:
Gold Member
 Quote by DaveC426913 Only for your immortal soul...
Whew! I'm safe, then. I don't have one of those.
 Blog Entries: 8 Thanks, fellows, for sharing! Bob's format: Hehe, lovely story, computers can be fun and annoying. Bob's toad/Dave's eel: Ouch, poor toad, poor eel. PAllen's shockwaves: Why build seven small bombs when you can build one big? Demolition Derby! DragonPetter's capacitor: I like that , that's pioneer work. Fractal electronics. Lisab's chemistry: Short but sweet story! Was that some kind of observer effect? Jedishrfu's computer: That's ambitious - flintstone computing! Hey, maybe your solenoids caused some time dilation...? Hobin's pictures: Hopefully you see it in another light today. Turbo's firecrackers: Dangerous... I'm glad you were unharmed! Ivan's hospital: Wow, major malfunction. I also hope your nostril is fine. Ivan's transistors: That sounds like it was really annoying . Trial and error to the bitter end. I have two more stories of my own, I'll post them later, I just have to write them first. Thanks again for your honesty! I've really enjoyed reading, and I hope more confessions will come.
 I was once working on a deicing system for a plane, basically a bunch of heating elements that run through the stabilizers and such. This required a monumental amount of AC voltage, and, since you don't want to throw a switch with a boat-load of AC, there was a relay to do the dirty work for you, triggered by a small VDC signal to power the solenoid. Something was up with the relay, so I had the cover off and was taking resistance readings through some of the inputs/outputs using a tiny bit of safety wire to jump some spots so I could read a huge series circuit instead of a dozen or so little pieces. After closing the relay back up, and solving the problem, I told my co-worker to go do a ground test on the deice system. It basically runs the voltage through the relay and heaters but with a tiny current so you don't burn through the skin of the plane since it's not very cold at sea level. Meanwhile I was putting the cover back on the relay, and when I put a driver up there to bolt the thing on I instantly took the whole boat-load of AC to the arm and was thrown to the ground..... Because the bit of wire I was using was still inside the relay... and somehow worked it's way into a spot that jumped the main AC voltage to the screw I was messing with while touching the shaft of the driver.... Never used bits of unaccounted wire to troubleshoot again, and I never touched the shaft of an otherwise grounded driver while doing anything near anything remotely possessing a current. My whole arm hurt for a week, and frankly, I am quite lucky.
 Recognitions: Science Advisor Excellent stories, all! I'll add mine in the spirit of encouraging others to take risks and sometimes play the fool: I was employed at NASA (research scientist) had just received my NIH training grant, thus taking me to a "postdoc+" position at a medical school, where I entered the pool of incoming grad students enrolled in physiology 101 in addition to running a microscopy core within a clinical department (pediatric pulmonology). All the faculty in both departments- about 100 people- knew some 'NASA rocket scientist' was joining the group, with all the baggage that goes along with that. They were all excited to talk about space stuff and whatnot. Big things that go fast. About a month after I started, when I first immunostained some cells (sorry for any and all jargon- it's just experimental procedures) I still felt the need to live up to NASAs reputation- exact, precise, accurate measurements; careful and deliberate process ("Failure is not an option!"), etc. Immunostaining takes about a full day and requires multiple 'wash steps'- I was *extremely thorough*- I carefully transferred sterile Millipore RO water to an endotoxin-free tube (no contamination, *pure* water) and made sure to dilute all the nasty fixing and permeabilizing solutions to the ppb or ppt level. Keeping track of every 0.01 microliter of solutions. (Spoiler- anyone who has done *any* biology can guess the error) When I was done- an 8-hour process- I examined my cells, on a filter perfectly mounted flat on a slide using precisely 75 microliters of Vectashield with DAPI, exactly 100 microns of headspace to a 1 1/2 coverslip which was kept refrigerated and sealed in a closed box to prevent any fluorophore bleaching. and saw... nothing. No fluorescence. No cells! WTF? So at the ped pulm meeting that Friday, I mentioned to the Chair- an old-school MD/PhD who is now the Dean- how hard all this bio stuff is. She had been reasonably amused by my presence; impressed with the NASA credential but she knew I had no clue how *strange* biology could be. Old-school MDs have an attitude- hers is justified since she had a full patient load (she has probably done hundreds of lung transplants), a huge research lab: call it $2million/year, ran the department, etc. etc. and did all that as a female in an extremely male-chauvinist dominated environment. I was all proud of my NASA mad lab skillz and mentioned all my cells disappeared, even though I was SO CAREFUL with the washing and the water quality. She looked at me like I was the village idiot and said that washing the cells with water was about the dumbest fu&king thing she had ever heard of- using water swelled the cells until they all popped- and that those dopes over in Physiology haven't taught me anything. Then she laughed at me for a while- the rocket scientist ain't so smart, after all. And this was a very public shaming- all the students/postdocs were still fighting over the leftover food. That wasn't that last idiotic thing I did- I spent that whole first year as a clueless newbie. Many would say I still am clueless :) Over time, I've learned enough to 'pass' as a physiologist when I want to- and now I'm extremely comfortable collaborating with biologists, chemists, engineers, docs (and physicists). The message here is that you have to risk being an idiot to grow and move forward. At least I've gotten good at immunostaining.... Blog Entries: 9 Recognitions: Gold Member  Quote by Andy Resnick Excellent stories, all! I'll add mine in the spirit of encouraging others to take risks and sometimes play the fool: I was employed at NASA (research scientist) had just received my NIH training grant, thus taking me to a "postdoc+" position at a medical school, where I entered the pool of incoming grad students enrolled in physiology 101 in addition to running a microscopy core within a clinical department (pediatric pulmonology). All the faculty in both departments- about 100 people- knew some 'NASA rocket scientist' was joining the group, with all the baggage that goes along with that. They were all excited to talk about space stuff and whatnot. Big things that go fast. About a month after I started, when I first immunostained some cells (sorry for any and all jargon- it's just experimental procedures) I still felt the need to live up to NASAs reputation- exact, precise, accurate measurements; careful and deliberate process ("Failure is not an option!"), etc. Immunostaining takes about a full day and requires multiple 'wash steps'- I was *extremely thorough*- I carefully transferred sterile Millipore RO water to an endotoxin-free tube (no contamination, *pure* water) and made sure to dilute all the nasty fixing and permeabilizing solutions to the ppb or ppt level. Keeping track of every 0.01 microliter of solutions. (Spoiler- anyone who has done *any* biology can guess the error) When I was done- an 8-hour process- I examined my cells, on a filter perfectly mounted flat on a slide using precisely 75 microliters of Vectashield with DAPI, exactly 100 microns of headspace to a 1 1/2 coverslip which was kept refrigerated and sealed in a closed box to prevent any fluorophore bleaching. and saw... nothing. No fluorescence. No cells! WTF? So at the ped pulm meeting that Friday, I mentioned to the Chair- an old-school MD/PhD who is now the Dean- how hard all this bio stuff is. She had been reasonably amused by my presence; impressed with the NASA credential but she knew I had no clue how *strange* biology could be. Old-school MDs have an attitude- hers is justified since she had a full patient load (she has probably done hundreds of lung transplants), a huge research lab: call it$2million/year, ran the department, etc. etc. and did all that as a female in an extremely male-chauvinist dominated environment. I was all proud of my NASA mad lab skillz and mentioned all my cells disappeared, even though I was SO CAREFUL with the washing and the water quality. She looked at me like I was the village idiot and said that washing the cells with water was about the dumbest fu&king thing she had ever heard of- using water swelled the cells until they all popped- and that those dopes over in Physiology haven't taught me anything. Then she laughed at me for a while- the rocket scientist ain't so smart, after all. And this was a very public shaming- all the students/postdocs were still fighting over the leftover food. That wasn't that last idiotic thing I did- I spent that whole first year as a clueless newbie. Many would say I still am clueless :) Over time, I've learned enough to 'pass' as a physiologist when I want to- and now I'm extremely comfortable collaborating with biologists, chemists, engineers, docs (and physicists). The message here is that you have to risk being an idiot to grow and move forward. At least I've gotten good at immunostaining....
Sounds like you were just doing biology with a homeopathic sample.
 Recognitions: Gold Member Biggest lab shame I can think of for me was during the French baccalauréat (final exams of high school that allows you to go to university of you pass with an average of 10/20) for the chemistry lab part. I was really weak in chemistry to start with; due to some reasons I don't feel like explaining. There were 2 ionic solutions, one with copper ions and the other, maybe silver or nickel, I don't remember, linked via a wire whose ends were 2 different metal if I remember well. I had to put each end of the wire inside the appropriate solution in order to some current to pass. I basically put the wrong metals in the solutions and my metal turned all black instantly. I was thinking "uh oh, I think something's wrong, I never seen that in any book". A guy who surpervised us came to me and told me "you put the wrong metal inside the solutions". Shame moment. Then thinking inside of me "really? Wow, uh well then I don't understand anything!". I still managed to get a 12/20 in the physics/chemistry exam, which was my best grade in the whole year in this course.
 Recognitions: Gold Member I have one "lab shame" incident. Inorganic Chemistry was so dead-easy that it was ridiculous. Aced all the labs. Then I got to the lab final. I ran diagnostic after diagnostic and came up with nothing. I was running out of sample and running out of time, too. I was the last one left, and finally had to do something as time ran out, so I wrote "water" on my lab result sheet. When I handed it to the proctor (grad student) he burst out in laughter, saying "It figures that you'd get this one!" I wonder how "randomly" the samples were allocated...
 Recognitions: Gold Member Turbo, you just made me remember something. When I was 10 years old we had a Geography test. I remember 2 questions: "The continents are: - - - - -" "The oceans are: - - - -" I answered "soil" and "water". I knew the names of the continents and oceans but I didn't realize they asked for them. I got a 3/20.

 Quote by fluidistic Turbo, you just made me remember something. When I was 10 years old we had a Geography test. I remember 2 questions: "The continents are: - - - - -" "The oceans are: - - - -" I answered "soil" and "water". I knew the names of the continents and oceans but I didn't realize they asked for them. I got a 3/20.
That is funny. Your teacher should have given you full credit. These kinds of situations of miscommunication still happen to me as an adult, and it seems to always give the person asking the question a false sense of superiority or some doubt in me just because we were on different wavelengths.

At a job interview, I thought the interviewer asked me "do you have any experience or knowledge in classical nuclear physics". This immediately put my mind in a bad mental state because I was trying to figure out the distinction of "classical" nuclear physics. I had to say no, and I wasn't sure what he meant. I'm sure he thought I was an idiot at this point.

His question was actually "do you have any experience in classical or nuclear physics" and I had just misheard him. Luckily they wanted me to succeed and lead me to give them an appropriate answer after just telling him I don't have any knoweldge of classical physics.

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 Quote by DaveC426913 The kids never went fishing again.
The irony of all this is that presumably you didn't realize eels are amphibians. It would have been quite happy out of water for a few hours while mom admired it. In fact in the UK some eels migrate quite long distances (i.e. miles) overland - presumably to get back to the pond they or their parents were born in after their early development at sea, though the complete life cycle of eels is still pretty mysterious.

The principle that "If it's not moving then it's dead" doesn't work very well for eels. Often they keep twitching for a few hours even after they have been chopped into pieces small enough to cook.

 Quote by AlephZero The irony of all this is that presumably you didn't realize eels are amphibians. It would have been quite happy out of water for a few hours while mom admired it. In fact in the UK some eels migrate quite long distances (i.e. miles) overland - presumably to get back to the pond they or their parents were born in after their early development at sea, though the complete life cycle of eels is still pretty mysterious. The principle that "If it's not moving then it's dead" doesn't work very well for eels. Often they keep twitching for a few hours even after they have been chopped into pieces small enough to cook.

Blog Entries: 1
Recognitions:
Gold Member
 Quote by fluidistic Turbo, you just made me remember something. When I was 10 years old we had a Geography test. I remember 2 questions: "The continents are: - - - - -" "The oceans are: - - - -" I answered "soil" and "water". I knew the names of the continents and oceans but I didn't realize they asked for them. I got a 3/20.
This calls for repetition of the famous:

Teacher: "How can you tell the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer?"

Student: I would go to the superintendent and say: "I'll give you this nice barometer if you tell me how tall this building is"

Teacher: I was thinking of a method that involved some technical understanding.

Student: I would wait for a sunny day, and measure the ratio of the barometer's height to its shadow; pace off the shadow of the building; and use proportion.

Teacher: Actually, I wanted an answer involving physics, not just math.

Student: I would go to the top of the building, throw the barometer off the building, and from the time of fall, compute the building's height.

Teacher: jumps off building in frustration with the student's success in avoiding the 'right answer' while always being right.

(My variant of a famous parable with many versions).

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Gold Member
Staff Emeritus
 Quote by Andy Resnick The message here is that you have to risk being an idiot to grow and move forward. At least I've gotten good at immunostaining....
You wouldn't believe some of the risks I've taken as a contractor. But every single major success in my career was the result of high risk - what some people might call nuts! At the end of the day, either you're a hero or the village idiot.

Simple mistakes can actually result in the most memorable and fun moments, though they may be somewhats painful at the time. Not my fault, actually, but while working on MRI systems I had one rather memorable moment. Everything in the MRI room was supposed to be stainless steel [my tools were made from beryllium]. But someone had inadvertantly left a regular chair made with ferrous materials sitting next to otherwise identical chairs made of stainless, in the control room [a big no-no!]. Not knowing this, as I often did, I grabbed a chair to go behind the magnet to make an adjustment but never made it that far. With my arm slung firmly through chair's frame, I only felt the tug of the chair torquing my shoulder for a moment before I was airborn and crashing into the magnet. When that field takes hold, the strength is incredible. There was nothing I could do but go along for the ride.

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Gold Member
 Quote by Ivan Seeking When that field takes hold, the strength is incredible. There was nothing I could do but go along for the ride.
It's a good thing that tooth fillings aren't ferrous.

I was kidding earlier about the church. I didn't actually blow it up; I just set it on fire. Also, it wasn't exactly on purpose. After all, I lived in the damned thing, and I certainly had no desire to lose either my Teddy bear or my Penthouse collection. I'm going to explain this, even if it bores you to tears.
My father was a preacher, and our house was part of the church. The front porch was a concrete pad about 7-8 metres wide by 2 long. The roof/canopy of it was supported by the building on the inboard side and by 3 hollow rectangular wooden pillars outboard. For some totally unknown reason, the genius who built the thing (in 1881) set those hollow pillars atop small blocks. That left 4 openings of about 2 x 1 cm around the base of each. That presented no problem whatsoever, until one spring when our bee-keeper neighbour's hive decided to bud off a new colony which set up housing inside one of those pillars. So here I was, in my full bug-phobia glory, with 5,000 armed enemies literally on my doorstep. In those days, one of my little fun devices was a (potentially lethal) stink-bomb. It was a medicine bottle (about the same size as an old photo-film canister), lined with aluminum foil for safety reasons. (That was certainly a misguided precaution.) Anyhow, the inside consisted of a 70/30 % mixture of pure sulphur and medium-rate shotgun powder, with a firecracker fuse for ignition. So, I figured that a snootful of sulphur trioxide might indicate to the little bastards that they might possibly be more welcome elsewhere. I set the stinker right beside one of the openings in the base of the column, lit the fuse, and deeked back into the house to watch through the front window (because I didn't want to be in the company of a shitload of irritated things with stingers.) Wait for it... wait for it... ignition! The problem was that either I got a load of a faster-burning shotgun powder or the proportions were off. What was supposed to be like a toy stink bomb to flush the buggers out decided to go up like a Roman candle.

 Tags hall shame stupidity