Right about now, you are likely starting to realize that science is hard. You may be frustrated that you've put all this time into lab to find out one of the first steps failed and you have to start over. How you recover from the failure is what will set you apart.

Today, Lifehacker has a great little piece on failure. There is a wealth of research on the art of failure and how it triggers a pain sensor that helps us learn more deeply. Wired also posted an article about James Dyson. Science is about failure and learning where the problem is. In the Wired article, the best line:
On the road to invention, failures are just problems that have yet to be solved.
You are just starting to learn how to fail at science. Did your PAGE gel fail? Why? You should be asking "why" more than wallowing in self pity that you'll have to repeat it. Einstein said, "Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results". So don't repeat your failed experiment exactly the same. Being able to detect and understand why something failed is the hallmark of a good scientist. Learning from these mistakes is the hallmark of a great scientist. Einstein also wrote, "The only source of knowledge is experience". Don't be afraid to experience lab. Don't be afraid to fail. Fail with gusto!

Use this semester to learn as much as you can about every reaction you perform. What are the limits? What are the corners you could cut? Does the PCR really need that much primer?

UPDATE: 4-21-11. I just got an email about a TED talk concerned with being wrong. It is great, and highly recommend you watch it (kinda long though for a TED talk...). You learn and can think a lot more when you aren't afraid of being wrong. It's called thinking outside the box. Try it with selections and you could invent the next new technique or find the cure to cancer!

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