If you are using a hood in the tissue culture room, please note that it is prime real estate. Don't leave your shit in there and disappear off to lunch or something. Other people need to use it. And I don't fucken care if "you're doing important stuff that has to be published"
As a side project ten months ago, my lab manager and I set to work in trying to produce a pure version of a molecule we commonly work with. Previously, we had worked with the molecule in an alcohol solution at 40% purity. One of the main reasons why we wanted to do isolate the molecule is that the alcohol can interfere with some of the reactions we want to use the molecule for. The pure molecule should be a white powder and the solvents we use should be clear (even with the pure molecule in it, it should still stay clear) but the solution is yellow due impurities that are also in the solution. Although we sometimes evaporate the alcohol, it leaves behind the impurities, which start to interfere in our reactions which doesn’t occur when the alcohol is present.
After 2 weeks of work, we had tried several different methods but none of them produced the pure molecule (it’s very “fragile”). Our first attempt, a precipitation, did not break down the molecule but rather replaced one solvent for another, with the molecule staying in solution, rather than precipitating out like we had thought it would.
We’ve recently moved our lab from one building to another building and our samples had to be moved as well. I was recently looking through the samples when trying to find one particular product when I found the jar containing the sample of the attempted precipitation.
At the bottom of jar was a thick layer of white powder with yellow liquid. I’m shocked by this. I show this to my lab manager. He’s also shocked by this. We test the material, the liquid still has all the impurities in it but the powder itself is the purest form of the material that we have been able to isolate ever.
So, it worked. It just took nine freaking months. We also don’t really care anymore as the solution is much easier to work with and we were able to do the projects we wanted to without the pure molecule in the mean time. But hey, academically, it’s good to know we can do it.