What doesn’t get shown in the final publication

By on Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

If one were to judge science based off of published papers, it would be assumed the work of a scientist was always productive. No issues would ever occur, no instrument would break and no model would crash.

In reality, we don’t live in a scientific utopia. Troubleshooting and maintenance represents part of the everyday. Laser laboratories are no exception. Last week while preparing a new experiment setup, the laser designated for the task decided to stop working. Normally a good clean of the optics with some re-alignment would resolve this issue. Wasn’t good enough this time. Even following the supplied instructions from the company that designed the laser didn’t help. Only one option remained. Hiring a van, getting up at 6 in the morning, strapping the laser in and driving to Rugby where the company was stationed. The next few hours were spent fighting sleep, putting on a cleaning suit with a stylish hairnet and standing for long periods of time while the laser technician employs his ‘batman’ detective skills on the dying laser. Eventually the laser had a pulse (no pun intended) and we could finally head home.

The Litron laser being repaired.

But hey, we did get some free lunch out of it!

It’s definitely the part of the PhD that no one tells you about when interviewing.