Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Need a Random Table of Stuff Found in a Biology Lab After the Apocalypse?

Reddit has you covered. You're welcome.

105 Things Found in a Biology Lab After the Apocalypse
 (a cut-and-paste dump from the above link)


1. Dull, Rusty Scalpel
Why don't you just replace the blade? There are a ton of fresh blades in the box right next to it. Oh, right, because all of your lab members have never been able to get this fucking thing to work, and last time you tried you wound up nearly slicing the top of your thumb off. You're terrified of even trying again. Maybe you should take your chances with a single-edge razor instead.

2. Rusted, Bent, Misshapen Dissecting Needle
This thing is probably older than you are. There are at least ten of them in the lab and they all look like they're been through a woodchipper. Why is that? And how the hell did the handle get charred that badly? You guess it is serviceable enough for the task you have to do. You just feel bad when you use it since it clearly has wanted to be put out of its misery for the past four years.

3. Rusty Single-edge Razor
Cousin to Dull, Rusty Scalpel, this little fellow likes to hide in drawers where you least expect to encounter him, like with the glass stir rods, post-it notes, and dropper bottles with histological stains of questionable age. Its presence can probably be attributed to Dull, Rusty Scalpel as well as that grad student your advisor had five years ago whose notebooks are completely unintelligible.

4. Tweezers That No Longer Tweeze
You are trying to manipulate something under the dissecting scope with Rusted, Bent, Misshapen Dissecting Needle and need a little help. You grab some needle-nose tweezers and...wait...why won't it...just a little....sonofa...seriously? They are bent just enough on the tip to not grasp the tiny little thing you're manipulating. ALWAYS. You grab another pair. Same thing. You get frustrated enough that you resolve to buy a new pair. You go to fishersci, only to realize that they cost $60 a pair and, being a poor graduate student, can't bring yourself to spend that much money on a $5 piece of metal that will get fucked up as soon as your undergraduate helper finds them. Seriously, how does he do that? Always find the newest metal thing in the lab and instantly ruin it? Holy shit, I think we just solved the mystery of Rusted, Bent, Misshapen Dissecting Needle.

5. Specialized Glassware of Uncertain Use
You don't know where it came from. You have no idea what it does and you can't find it in a lab catalogue anywhere. Even your advisor doesn't know who bought it or what it's for. It eats up space that could be put to better use for graduated cylinders or Erlenmeyer flasks, but in a way, it commands a sense of respect, even reverence. It has always been there and always will. You are sure it was unspeakably expensive when it was purchased, whenever the hell that was, and for that reason no one in the last 30 years has had the heart to throw it out. Your advisor thinks maybe someday someone will use it again. You think maybe someday you'll steal it and make a sweet bong or something out of it. But you ultimately find you can't. It's a piece of history, it is beautiful, and even though you don't know what the fuck it is for, you want future generations of laboratory serfs to have the opportunity to ponder its purpose.

6. Not-So-Sharp Sharpie
It is the immutable law of the universe that no matter how many other new sharpies there are in that pen holder, Not-So-Sharp Sharpie is invariably the first one you pull out. Always. You always throw it out, and it always keeps showing up in that pen holder. How the fuck...?

7. Shelf of Old Stock Solutions
Once upon a time, some graduate student spent a lot of time to make a bunch of stock solutions. You have no idea what they were used for and they eat up space that could be used for stock solutions you need now. But you can't just throw them out...you don't even know how to throw them out...what if they are toxic? And even if you do know how to dispose of them, you feel guilty throwing out a liter of a 10X stock. Not the ones that have crystallized, changed color, or have stuff growing in them--those are very satisfying to purge, but the ones that are still good beg for you to spare their lives for just awhile longer. But the day you finally find you can use one of these stock solutions for your experiment, you don't. What if they made a mistake making it? What if they added deathnium and the label fell off? No, only the freshest and best stock solutions of your own making will do for your really important experiment. But maybe you'll have another experiment that's not as important and you can try out this stock. That day will never come. Those stock solutions are already older than the shelf it will forever sit on. Like the scissors, they too hold the secret of eternal life.

8. That One Stir Plate
Yea, that one. The one that has seen years of Bacto Tryptone powder and buffer splashes. The one with peeling paint and spots of rust...well you hope that's rust. It has only two speeds now: off and super-fast. It doesn't get thrown out because it still technically works, but nobody ever uses it. Consequently, it is always the one you end up using because the others are being used. In a sort of cruel irony for the stir plate, the closer to death it comes, the less it is used, and the more immortal it becomes.  

9. The manual lighters
You know, they look like some steel foreign musical instrument. You squeeze the handle causing it to scrape against the ferrocerium and cause a spark, or at least that's what it's supposed to do. Usually you spend up to fifteen minutes trying to get it to spark before you hold it over the bunsen burner. Honestly a match would be easier.

10. 1L Mystery Buffer
You've seen it on the shelf since you started working in the lab - a 1L flask of buffer that seem completely normal and otherwise usable, except that no one seems to know exactly what it's supposed to be. The UV has long since damaged the label, but everyone else is working on the assumption that someone else has some use for it. Obviously it cannot be tossed out if it might still be useful, right?
11. Drawer Full of Broken Lab Equipment
All labs have it... the drawer of shame. Non-functional pipettes, cracked timers, broken microscope parts, and a multitude of spare hex wrenches. The problem is... even though it's very obviously cracked, who wants to be the one to throw out a $200 condenser for a microscope that is no longer in production? Back in the drawer it goes.

12. Tubes Taking Up Room In The Freezer
Every time someone runs out of a solution in a commercial kit, it has been written by the Protocol Gods that the remaining solutions will be returned to the freezer, never to be used again. Dozens of neglected enzyme buffers, all neatly labeled, line the shelves along with their brothers and sisters from other kits. The lab is full of entire 1L bottles of nuclease-free water, and so whenever a commercial product includes a 0.5mL aliquot of water for your convenience, it ends up finding its way into the fridge or freezer, destined to a life of desolation, no one ever bothering to use it.

13. Former Lab Members' Samples
Your PI won't let you throw them out because they "might be valuable to someone's project", but there's no way in your life that you'd ever use a mysterious tube labeled "Polyclonal-13 - 10/2002". You're sure that someone with the initials "A.R." knew exactly what they were when they created them 11 years ago (are those even supposed to be dates?). They probably even spent a good many months getting to point that they'd make several boxes full of similarly ambiguous 50uL aliquots, but everyone who was around then has either graduated or found employment elsewhere. The sad irony is that you know, some day in the future when it is your turn to leave the lab, that your samples will find exactly the same fate.

14. Expensive, Useless Stuff From Back When The Group Had Money
Years ago somebody needed 10 mL of a super-expensive reagent. Having just gotten some grant money, they bought 2L of it. Now you have $2000 worth of something you will never use, but you can't throw it away because it's too expensive.

15. Roughly half a fake human skeleton
Commonly found in teaching areas, but this one seems to migrate between different areas no matter how many times you put the pieces into a drawer. And there is still most of a left hand on the coffee table two floors down that seems to match the skull and ribcage that stay on the stand in the corner of a dark lab, next to racks of blackened test tubes that seem uncleanable.

16. Vintage Liquid Chromatograph
It used to belong to the Plant Biotech department, but they got funding for a new one, and your professor is sure he'll fix it up as good as new and get great GPC results out of it. The white elephant has successfully migrated into another two years of idleness.

17. The leaky freeze-drier
It will work just fine for a month or two to lull you into a false sense of security. Then one day you have an important sample and the shiny new freeze drier is occupied... next morning, instead of nice clean protein flakes you have some yellow mush with 0.0 IU enzyme activity.

18. Hoses, A Whole Drawer of Crumbling Rubber Tubes And Hoses.
You know what I'm talking about. There's this one drawer that never gets opened, and when you do, it's like the dust of a forgotten tomb wafts out. What's inside you say? Why, hoses and tubing, all so old that the top layer crumbles at your touch. What's that? did two of them fuse together? Why yes! But oh! we can't throw them out, for what will we use when we need to use the Bunsen burners, you know, the one that has a new gas hose on it, but hey, I guess they still work.

19. Cabinet of Expired Standards
If you work in a pharmaceutical lab, you may know the joy of the expired drugs cabinet. Organizing it was your first job in the lab, but God knows what happened to the list you made. Theoretically it's somewhere with the lists every other lab employee made in their first weeks of work. Careful, that leaking jar with the illegible label appears to be caustic! Before you can figure out how to properly dispose of a glass vial labeled "Rx cocaine rec'd April 1954," you've been moved on to "cleaning out" that Shelf of Old Stock Solutions. Like the stock solutions, the theory seems to be that disposing of them might somehow, someday, inconvenience someone who could use them.

20. Glassware for Outdated Techniques
No one in your lab will ever do TLC again, and yet for some reason all those massive plates, flasks, and beakers must continue taking up prime shelf space. Once a year someone brings up to the manager that they might be worth something and he vaguely agrees to look into selling it.

21. The Ancient Centrifuge
It looks like Sputnik, and may or may not work. Ours is currently being used as a table for a slightly less-ancient model that only works 63% of the time, only on 3/4 speed, and no longer turns on/off via the on/off switch so you have to plug/unplug it. Maybe if we sold them both, we could buy one that actually worked!

22. Mouth Pipettes
Because someday we will use them for work on highly pathogenic microbes that infect the lungs!

23. Old Computers
So what if they are black and green monitors that are difficult to read. They may be excellent sources for parts for the current barely functioning computer for that one piece of equipment. We can't upgrade it, because that kind of backwards compatibility may cause a tear in the space-time continuum.

24. The Off-Brand Bottles
Most of the bottles in the cabinet are Pyrex. They are all nice and uniform. But what's that in the back? Oh...those bottles. You don't know if it was a purchasing mistake or if that's how bottles used to be back in the day, but there are some non-Pyrex bottles in the cabinet. Of course you can't throw them out! They are still usable...just a little different...and old...and not as good...and a wee bit more prone to exploding. The caps are different too. You always shun them, but the bottles know that one day, when the others are all being used, you'll come crawling back to them.

25. The Lone Microscope
No one really knows what to do with it because it's so old and bulky. It has been gathering dust in the corner of the lab bench for years. When it comes time to tidy up the lab, everyone just cleans around it. One of the eyepieces looks kind of funny, and the lens has seen better days. It probably still works, but hey, who wants to sit there tinkering with the knobs?

26. Ancient, Questionably Sanitary Blanket
The shared office where undergrads often study has this blanket sitting the corner. Everyone calls it the "smallpox blanket". It's been there as long as anyone can remember — nine years at minimum — and even the senior faculty aren't sure where it came from. No one knows when it was last washed, if ever. There are some worrisome discolored splotches here and there. The brave and sufficiently sleep-deprived will occasionally sleep on it, while the more sensible won't touch the thing.

27. Bottle of Magnesium Acetate Containing a Fungus
Like a friendly mascot, the little puffball watches you work from it's watery home on the shelf. You puzzle over how it can survive on just one chemical; consider trying to identify its species. One night you shake the jar to see if the pieces, once dissociated, will grow into more puffballs -- they don't, you murderer. You dump the stuff down the sink, but your little friend reappears in the next lab you go to. And the one after that.

28. Vintage Samples From The 90s
Rumors abound as to where these samples were taken. They have date codes with no corresponding notebook. Even the post docs are baffled by their presence. Your PI insists on keeping them, even though they have already been run, in the off chance that you need to re run the sample to fill in one point on your plot of hundreds of samples. You know they will never get re run. They sit on a shelf in the clean room because you have nowhere else to put them. After a while, you forget about them and move on with your life. Theres nothing you can do. They were here before you and they will still be around until the HDPE gives out.   

29. The Bad Metcal
Once upon a time, this was a badass, expensive solder station, the best you could buy. Then a couple years ago you got two nice new OKi branded Metcals with digital readouts and stuff. The Bad Metcal takes the same tip cartridges and is just as good- but there's a crack in the handle that's been taped up with kapton tape, and the iron stand's covered in desoldered 0203 capacitors and flux residue, so nobody bothers to use it. You'd throw it out, but it still works, so it just sits there.

30. The Pile of Prototypes that Time Forgot
There's a big rubbermaid tub at the back of the lab. It exists in every lab I've been in. You see, PCB vendors charge a setup fee- a few hundred bucks, usually- for every new PCB layout, and then an area fee for each board they sell you. So it might cost you $400 to get one board, but only $450 to get five. So you order five. Then you discover that the board has a few bugs, so you rework a couple of them- one for the hardware guy, one for the software guy- with kynar and superglue and kapton- and then you put the other three in the big rubbermaid tub, just in case. There are boards in there that have a copyright date in 1997. They will never leave. The only purpose they serve is that- if you had them assembled- you might want to pull some chips off of one now and then.

31. The Fridge
Mother of mercy, the fridge. See, in these enlightened surface mount times, we do most of our assembly by reflow soldering. And we do reflow soldering using a hot air pencil- the reason we bought the shiny new OKi solder stations- and a substance called solder paste. Solder paste has to be kept refrigerated. Well, it says in the datasheet it does, so that's what we do. It also only lasts about six months. But, solder paste is (a) toxic waste and (b) fucking expensive, so we never throw the old stuff out. On the other hand, nobody wants to risk killing a $80 FPGA by using the old stuff and finding that it didn't flow correctly... so in the fridge it stays. Other short-shelf-life materials that stay in the fridge include the lab manager's lunch, since he's already absorbed so much lead over his career that he's likely to be shiny and molten when cremated.

32. The Pile of Cables of Unknown Origin and Termination
Pretty much all the equipment in the lab comes with a cable pack. The logic analyzers, for example, come with logic pods and mini-grabbers that are completely useless when dealing with anything designed halfway recently (the signals are too fast, and BGA parts don't have pins for them to grab on). That's why we design test points onto the board as MICTOR connectors or whatever. As a consequence, two things happen- we have to make cables to attach the board to the logic analyzer, and we have spare logic analyzer cables. Both go into the cable pile, since neither of them are useful when we're working on the next thing. Then there are the really weird ones. Ever heard of SATA drive strength calibration? Every device that includes a SATA controller has to do this. You do it by soldering probes onto a SATA hard drive, then measuring the signal using a very expensive oscilloscope while your pet firmware dork twiddles the controller setting until the eye diagram looks okay. After you're done with it, the hard drive goes into the pile of cables, since you probably don't trust it to store, like, actual data or anything after it's had someone chop it around with a Metcal- and certainly not after it's been kicking around a lab bench for a couple weeks.

33. A Drawer Full of Bits of Wire, Random Power Resistors, and Parts Nobody Wants
Every lab has one. The two and a half feet of (ridiculously expensive) teflon-insulated microwave coax that was left over after you made a Bluetooth test rig? That goes in here. What about the dozen 1-ohm 65 watt power resistors that were left over after you got done testing your 800 watt power supply? That goes in here. What about the ten units of 15-cent 74HCT00 that you ordered in the wrong package? That goes in here. It'd cost more to send it back to Digikey than it would just to curse the heavens and buy some more. Maybe someone will find a use for quad nand gates in a 8.5mm SO package. Maybe.

34. Fucked Up Tweezers
Yeah, the expensive ESD-safe $60 tweezers? Your fucking intern got hold of them, and now they need orthodontics. Stabbing them into the antistatic mat was not your idea of "taking care".

35. Broken Exacto Knife Handles
There's a law, or an old charter, or something, that you will have at least four of these in the toolchest. The friction lock will be sufficiently tight to hold a blade, but not tight enough that the blade will not retreat into the handle when you are trying to cut a 0.2mm-wide trace that is only 0.5mm away from its neighbour. This will happen and your hand will slip and you will cut the wrong trace. You will end up soldering kynar under the microscope for the seventh time today and the software guy will complain that you are holding him up.

36. LeCroy Oscilloscopes
I don't understand why this company still exists. Even a cheapy Rigol is better. Rented oscilloscopes are even worse- you want to connect that to your lab network? really? you enjoy having every virus known to man injected directly into your network, because this shit always runs Windows versions known only to Noah and his (admittedly successful) marine engineering business?

37. Lead-Free Solder
Fuck this shit. Seriously.

38. The Unlabelled, Unbidden, Unknowable CD-R
Once upon a time, this might have had a label- or at least, a scrawl in sharpie- but it was probably on a bench when someone was using acetone to wash a PCB. Now it just has a blob. You stuck it in one of the workstations once, but the only file on it was named 19980203.exe and you're buggered if you're going to run that. You don't want to throw it away, because it's probably a firmware file for some unspeakably expensive oscilloscope or protocol analyzer or something, and fate has decreed that the instant it goes in the bin, the $300k PCI Express analyzer will need a new hard drive and someone will wander over and ask where the CD went.

39. Schrodinger's Digikey Box
Came in the mail one day. Doesn't have anyone's name on it, and the purchase order doesn't match up with any of the expenses reports the lab system knows about. It might be the parts for someone's personal project, or it might be marketing shit from some chip vendor (yeah, I really want baseball caps that proclaim my allegiance to Analog Devices' fine range of opamps.) You don't want to open it because what if it belongs to someone else? It might be that one weird Chinese PhD who nobody talks to.

40. Expensive But Aging Multimeter
Back when the department had money, someone decided on the noble cause of buying the most expensive multimeter on the market. But time has not been kind to it. Some of the markings have rubbed off, rendering it's use into arcane ritual, known only to the few and far between. Is it set to capacitance or conductance? Is it even measuring capacitance in farads? Why is the ohm symbol on? Oh, it's went out. Now it's giving nonsense readings. Oh, wait, now it seems to be displaying duty cycle. But it's set on voltage! What does that blank button even do? Oh, now it's went blank.

41. The Maimed Meter
It used to be a Fluke 75. Now it shambles, undead. It's too expensive to throw out, but some time ago someone unnamed managed to stick it across a 20 kWh battery bank when it was on the amps range. The HRC fuses popped, the probes vaped, but everything survived. A squirt of vaporised fuse material stains the outside of the yellow case, and the calibration sticker on the outside is now only a happy memory of better times. You bought some new probes, replaced the fuse, emptied the bits of silica and splattered copper out from the inside, and it seems to work okay, but for some reason people always pick it last, or choose it when they have to do something that's potentially meter-destroying. You feel sorry for the maimed meter; there is nothing that can remove the stain from its reputation, or for that matter, from the bright yellow bumper.

42. Seven Little Rubber Feet
Every EE lab has a strip of seven bump-on sticky rubber feet. Nobody knows where they came from or where the eighth one went.

43. Dead Nine Volt Batteries
There are spare nine volt batteries in the supply closet. All the meters use them. Some complete bastard has replaced half of them with dead ones, presumably having swapped out a dead meter battery and not wanting to deal with the onerous task of throwing out the dead one (? is this why they do it?) Of course, when a dead 9v has sat for long enough on the shelf, it recovers enough voltage that it will work for a little while when placed in a meter. This means that it will conk out and you will have to go back to the supply closet, get another one, take the screw out of your meter, swap the battery, start your experiment over and discover that this one's dead too. This is why there was a laser printed sign on the door to the lab that said "IF I CATCH YOU PUTTING DEAD BATTERIES BACK IN STOCK I WILL DRIVE MY CAR OVER YOUR FACE", at least until someone important was visiting, at which point the sign was taken down by someone in middle management.

44. The Unlabelled, Unbidden, Unknowable CD-R
I tried one of these out once, when desperate for a CD-R. It had been used...to move four computer viruses for analysis. I had never expected I would get to use the phrase 'please label your computer viruses' in a serious conversation.

45. Too-thin Cardboard
Hey! Company that makes cardboard! Stop changing the thickness of the cardboard on us! Don't worry, though! We won't throw it out or ask for a refund.

46. Mysterious Equipment
It's probably expensive, and manufactured by a reputable company. It's of interesting complexity, and is probably partly mechanical. Maybe it has a vacuum chamber or a very delicate X-Y table. You don't know whether it has any manuals and nobody in the lab knows what it does, or even if they do they don't know what it was used for and it has been here for years. You are worried that its being damaged just by sitting on the table but have no idea what to do.

47. The Beige Computer-Sized Box
Item is a beige plastic or painted metal cased electronic device similar in size and weight to a tower desktop computer. No further data available. Identification not possible. Number in storage: Fifteen, non-identical.

48. The Questionable Rusting Canister
It may or may not have red phosphorus in it, but you're really not sure. You don't want to touch it, because you're pretty sure that red colour is rust, and the container is actually one little crack from being exposed to air, and burning the entire lab to the ground. But if you don't touch it, and it cracks on its own ...

49. Miscellaneous Hazardous Waste Campus Health & Safety had some specific and unreasonable policy about picking these materials up requiring filling out a form, calling them, or flagging them down around campus and as such have been sitting there having a staring contest with your lab's HAZCOM Right to Know poster for over a decade.

50. Reactive Metal in a Pickle Jar At some point in the life of ever lab, usually when the first grant came in, someone saw some need for a hockey puck-sized lump of sodium. The postgrads, usually at this point having a little extra money were actually eating and as such had a leftover pickle jar to place it in. Sometimes it is decorated for holidays.

51. Misc. Sharps
Not every lab works with sharps, but when they do they try to distribute the used sharps evenly between every drawer, cardboard box, and also sharps container to minimize their waste output.

52. Lecture Bottle of Hazardous Compressed Gas
At some point someone thought that some tetracarbonyl nickel was absolutely essential and being budget-minded purchased the smallest lecture bottle that Sigma Aldrich could conceive to manufacture. After about 1% was used and the cylinder was no longer necessary all of the disposal and storage requirements came to light and it now resides hidden in a cabinet under packing peanuts for eternity.

53. Vacuum Pump Oil
Being of no particular value until that strange grad student finally converts his old mercedes diesel to biodiesel or vegetable oil, the 4L bottles multiply until they start overtaking entire fume hoods, shelving units, or storage cabinets.

54. Unknowns
Someone will always swear that they are from the previous PI, even in new labs.

55. The Abomination
A (mumbled acronym, possible BNC or something along those lines) to high-voltage cable. No one knows where it came from or why it was in our cable drawer, but we dare not throw it out in case one of the bits of equipment they inherited uses it for some unspeakable purpose. Until then, users are protected from the fact the non-high voltage end has no safety protection on it by a plastic bag marked "This is an abomination", so they don't accidentally hook the high-voltage end up to current, then grab the other expecting a proper ending.

56. Secret cabinet of weird mystery tools
It's always been there, sitting in the corner of the shop and always in the corner of your eye. It's always seemed to be out of place, and you can't really put your finger on just why that is. It just sits there in the corner, next to the cabinets you know and love and have used every day. It just sits there, under that one inexplicably always-broken light, taunting you. Somehow, the wood it's made out of seems to be much older than it should be- it's rotting in weird places, darkening, as if its birth was before time itself. No one talks about it. No one looks at it. No one even acknowledges its existence.

But you do. You don't ignore it. You do the opposite. You yearn for knowledge. You shove the thought that there could be something horrible waiting for you in there to the back of your mind, although you almost hope there is. So, you put down the stock you were working on, and you walk across the lab to meet your fate, not unlike a man on death row walking to the chair, while a jaded engineer disinterestedly watches you from across the room.

You open it and find things. There are no words for what these are. There is an entire assortment of different sizes of things that have bright yellow plastic handles and what looks like cheese graters attached to the one end of them. The only hint to what they could be is a label on the door that says "ACRYLIC ONLY". Still, you have no idea.

There is also a graveyard of around 15 broken hot glue guns littered over the bottom of this cabinet, 4 or 5 dozen reverse-threaded bolts from an old project, numerous scrap pieces of paper, lots of broken endmill bits, AND A FUCKING HEAD. Yes, it might not be real. It might be from an old show at a local theater we work for occasionally. But that DOES NOT change the fact that it's a mannequin head on a stick and oh god why have I not burned this thing to send it back to hell yet.

There are many more weird things in the secret cabinet of weird mystery tools, but after seeing the mannequin head, you have learned your lesson and shut the door before you lost your chance to attempt to drink until you black out enough to hopefully un-see what you just saw.

57. That goddamn CNC machine-turned-paperweight
You've been working here for 3 years or so. An that huge, expensive CNC machine in the corner has been here for twice that. And yet, you have never seen it turned on. You have never even had a reason to touch it. Why? Well, apparently, as it's been carefully explained to you in the past, someone broke it almost immediately after it was delivered, and, ever since then, the shop has been in a gentle balance between being rich enough to not have to sell the fucking thing, and poor enough to not have the money to fix it. So now it sits in corner of the shop, taking up like 10 square feet in space, looking pretty while everyone waits for the budget situation to either get better or worse so we can finally do something useful over there.

58. The Completely Ignored Death Trap
You remember last year, when someone told the guy in charge that you couldn't cut 1/8" thick steel hinges on the bandsaw because there's a difference between metal cutting saws and regular saws? And how he got really indignant and did it anyway? And how the blade immediately got all nicked up and chipped and how everyone's pretty sure it's gonna snap any minute now, even though the guys in charge say it's just some minor cosmetic damage and it's nothing to spend money on? And how no one uses it willfully, and when they have to, it's become tradition to evacuate all unnecessary personnel from the lab and say a small prayer for the unlucky soul who has to use it? And how you really really need to cut a 2.5" thick piece of plexiglass so it will fit in the CNC so you can progress with that super important overdue project you're working on? And how literally every other machine is taken right now? Yeah, time to get your completely ineffective lab goggles on, buddy. Today might be your last.

59. Soviet Era “switchboards” with no apparent use
Seriously, I don't even know how else to put it, there are like 10 of these things in my building with just a shit load of knobs and switches and inputs and outputs that god knows what they do anymore. Well I guess a few profs know but once those profs are gone...

60. Old brain sections that clutter up the shelf
This is one I can explain because some standard requires researchers to keep their physical data for so many years (7?) anyways, there are thousands of rat brain sections stacked on shelfs anywhere they can be crammed.

61. Eclectic Garbage
Seriously I'm not just talking old wires and broken equipment. But I've seen old computers, unused stereotaxic apparatuses, and a lamp, like one you'd have in your living room with an ornate stalk and nice lamp shade wrapped in plastic with an old light bulb in it with a cord thats only 1 m long, there is one of those. We've also found two old bottles that looked like volumetric flasks but with mysterious red and blue liquid labelled HP and MP, they got to stay.

62. Old operant boxes
Use these alot in behavioural neuroscience but there are set ups for paradigms I've never heard of before stashed on the very top shelf of half the rooms so high up they scrape the ceiling.

63. 2 giant bottles of chloroform

64. The Soviet Era Mystery Powder
The giant dessicator you found in the back of cold storage of the 4th sub-basement in an ancient complex contains 8 large test tubes of a white powder easily totaling 2kg. The only visible label reads "AB-tox June 62." Wondering if you just stumbled upon the payload of a biological weapon you contemplate what to do and for a brief moment you think of becoming a James Bond supervillain. You then consider calling someone about it, but with the concern that you will "disappear" you just wipe your prints off and slide it back where it was found.

65. Mysteriously Dated Solutions
The label says 1/12 and doesn't look that old. Is this solution 2 months old and still usable or 14 months old and expired. Lets go find who made it and see if they know, but in a lab of 3 people no one can remember or recognize the hand writing.

66. The New Yet Ancient Machine
This equipment was made in the last 10 years but its computing power is rivaled by that of a digital watch. Just turning it on takes careful planning and time considerations. It plays a magnificent song of electrical whirls and what sounds like 1940's hard drive trying its best not to explode for a half hour every time you hit the switch. You question what it's doing or why a 4000$ piece of equipment uses ancient circuity when the processor in a dollar store calculator would do a better job.

67. The New Machine Requiring an Ancient Overlord
The designers of this $14,000 complex incredible machine obviously didn't have a budget for software as this new machine is only supported by Windows 93. Requiring you to find a machine older than most techs in the lab and install drivers via MS-DOS. When you finally get it setup and working, god forbid that you don't forget to turn it on prior to needing it; as that 15 minute window you have to read your sample is the time required by the ancient overlord to boot up.

68. That one detector no one wants to throw away
It sits at the very back of the shelf, always watching, waiting for it's time to shine. You've seen your professor use it on some sources even though it hasn't been calibrated since 1976. You know this because you've checked the side of it. Right next to the calibration label there is a ridiculously complex equation to ensure that even though it's not calibrated you can still get the right answer. When you ask your professor about it he says that the equation was there when he came to the college and that it seems to work. You suggest tossing it and getting a new one, but there is no money in the budget for that he says. Wouldn't you rather us get new sources?

69. The cabinet of mystery and broken sources
"Hey" You turn around to see your professor on the other side of the lab. "Could you get me a Sr-90 check source from cabinet C?" You say sure and head to the storage closet. This is actually your first time going into cabinet C. This means your professor finally trusts you enough to not fuck up around more hot sources. You reach cabinet C. you open the doors. Oh good lord help you and pray for your soul. You now see why the older students always send the new people to fetch sources and why everyone hides it from the safety commission. There is every possible violation of safety regulations possible in your mind and probably more contained in this cabinet. There are sources outside of their lead pigs. you can see the pig that it belongs to, but you don't dare touch it. Look, there's a glass jar on it's side very slowly leaking a clear fluid. you can see the build up of scale around. you put on gloves and put it up right, you hope to whatever god that is out there that that was not tritium. Thank god this room is well ventilated. In one corner there is an odd little piece of grayish metal. What is it? Only the person who put it there knows. You finally spot the containers of check sources. Out of curiosity you open the one of the older ones. Half of them are missing their labels and the other half are either totally broken or cracked. Scared for your health you put it back. Finally you open up the newest container. Ahh there it is. The ten year old Sr-90 source. You back away from the cabinet vowing to never go back there. You will instead send a new student whenever you need something.

70. Cabinet of Unknown Metals
Someone was doing an experiment once, and they needed some god-awful expensive foil of some element you've only ever skipped over on the periodic table. Where even is Thallium, anyways? When they were done (did they ever run it?) the foil ended up in this cabinet. All of the metals look roughly the same -- you can identify the copper, and the gold, but other than that it's an even tossup between lead and something else terrible for you, with maybe some aluminum, iron, or something else hard and shiny thrown in. Of course, some are labeled, but some aren't, and you don't really want to destroy the foil's shape to NAA a sliver. Plus, who the hell knows how hot it's going to come out?

71. The Wooden Box of Dead Sources
This was a really nice box of sources when it was purchased in 1976. Calibrated well, nicely sealed, even comes in a fancy wooden box. Then it sat on a shelf for a few decades until a new prof who needed them joins the university. Now half of them are dead, but you can't dispose of them, as your lab would have to go through the work of proving they aren't radioactive. Far easier to put them back in the box with the live ones. Besides, the HPGe detector can still make out some of those dead ones if you leave it in there long enough.

72. The Freezer Bottle of Ether Dated 14 Years Prior
Sitting there like a tiny potential time-bomb, it's dated from the 1990s. Whether it still contains ether is a mystery; the prof disclaims all knowledge, and directs all queries to campus health and safety- whose only recommendation is to "pick it up and see if there's anything in it"- advice that is quickly ignored.

After multiple queries over several months, the bottle finally disappears mysteriously before work one morning.

73. Stained-as-Fuck Erlenmeyer Flask
Everyone's had them: You get into the lab and go to your assigned space. You need a flask to do your experiment, but, lo and behold, it has enough stuff caked on the bottom and sides, from years and years of continued use by first year undergrads who don't have the withal to correctly/efficiently clean the glassware, to make you worry about using it because it might accidentally skew your results.

74. That one person in lab that breaks a slide just as the TA/Supervisor warns for caution when adjusting the focus on the microscopes
Ok, not really equipment problems, but just lab peers' ineptitude. It's sad that when you get into a lab (in my case, an upper-level undergrad lab), and, naturally, the first question on the first day of lab from the TA/supervisor is, "Alright, who has any experience/knows what the fuck they are doing when handling a microscope?" There's always those few (and in some lucky cases, only one) who, in fact, doesn't know what the fuck they are doing when using a microscope and breaks their fucking slide not five minutes into adjusting the damn thing. I mean, we've all had the same pre-required classes in order to get into the damn class. I know you've handled a damn microscope multiple times and you should know how to use the damn thing.   

75. My Goddamn Knife
The lab loadout didn't even include a decent craft knife. Everything that might serve this purpose appears to have been buried then excavated. My Goddamn Knife has my initials written on the inside for dramatic exposition in case of theft.

76. The Big, Sad Tub of Other Allen keys
Contains every size of allen key ever manufactured, except 2.5mm and 3mm. contains lots of 3/32" (~2.38mm) keys that appear to work but are actually just really good at stripping the heads from M3 bolts just before they're tight. Thanks, America.

77. Bits Box
Contains 1 of everything if you look hard enough. Even if you just dropped the only one of that thing down the drain, it'll reappear here next week. Cultivating a healthy bits box is a lifelong journey.

78. Drill bits for the drill we don't have
It's not gone, it never was. If you want to drill something you need to know people.

79. N-1 Liters of Flammable liquids
Where N is the volume of flammable liquid that requires an expensive and heavy cabinet for storage. Lucky!

80. Are These Even Still Antibiotics?
Unlabeled antibiotic mixtures from days/weeks/years(?) ago that everyone's afraid to use (don't want to give animals post-surgery useless/old antibiotics), but no one wants to throw away because...well honestly no one wants to deal with the dozens of bottles accumulating in the fridge.

81. Old Jars With Animal Heads
As with most animal labs, said animals eventually have to be disposed of. With this lab, animal heads need to be soaked in formalin to prepare for histology. Fast forward a few years where the refrigerator is filled with jars of rat heads in clear bottles, soaking away when lab techs moved onto other projects and forgot about it, or maybe just loved seeing that smiling, decapitated face every time they opened the fridge door

82. Stacks On Stacks of Old Journals
Why throw out or catalogue journals when you can just leave them on the table? All of the issues from smaller, lesser known journals that your PI gets in the mail for free and dumps on the main conference table because he doesn't want to look at them, all of the giant catalogues for new lab equipment that you can't buy because you have all of that old, shitty equipment (those fucking scissors, dull scalpels, tweezers that don't tweeze) that works "just fine!"....the table soon becomes a giant dump of pages that no one ever reads, but no one ever wants to clean up. You learn to incorporate them into your daily life, using them as smaller mini tables to hold your laptop to browse articles that aren't more dated than your grandmother.

83. More Possibly Slightly Radioactive Labcoats Than We Have People In Lab
Seriously, maybe two people use them for Kinase Assays, we must have about 6 lab coats.

84. More Coats by a Factor of Ten Than People in Lab
Seriously, no one has ever taken their lab coat with them when they graduated, or chucked it the fuck out. So, we have coat after coat occupying a coat rack, and no one's willing to handle them to get rid of them - and how DO you get rid of a lab coat that has seen more chemicals than the fume hood? Even my PI has one on there and.. well, that's just ridiculous.

85. Hidden Stash of Useful But Easily Stolen or Destroyed Items
Some days it's difficult to not view your labmates as one of the many forces of the universe that is trying to ruin your research. Your Stash contains such useful items as razor blades, unused sharpies, BIC lighters, the only readable haemocytometer you were able to find, the non-shitty cell counter, and the scissors you purchased with your own money because your advisor is too much of a cheap-ass to replace These Fucking Scissors. It is hidden in the back of the least used drawer in the lab, and you only open it when you're sure no one is around. It is guarded more vehemently and treasured more ardently than your porn stash. Sometimes Hidden Stash of Useful But Easily Stolen or Destroyed Items is the only thing guaranteeing you and a restful night's sleep, and you are sure that if it is ever discovered you will probably have a psychotic break with reality.

86. Your Stash of Rubber bands and Paperclips
These incredible rare tools streamline even the most complex biological experiments; yet in a giant complex of offices they are non-existent. You try to order some of these tools but when you go to check the online ordering store they are not listed. Requiring a bureaucratic nightmare to order anything not from the store you resort to a smash and grab heist from the local hospital; hiding your treasure where no one will ever look.

87. The Leaking bio bag
The sticky, walled stain usually from a cat or some sheep's eyes, in the bottom of the cold storage. Though when our uni ran out of drawer space for cadavers, there was one kept for ages in the prof's office building, in the basement, under a table. Night housekeeping checked it out when it began to leak. Hilarity ensued, complete with hours of flashing lights from cop cars.

88. Ye old Zipdisk drive and The One Zipdisk
Because none of our computers are young enough to support a USB flashdrive. So, you transfer your precious 700 KB of data via the Zipdisk, and then cart the whole drive around.

The look guests give us when they ask us if they can transfer their data from the UV-VIS computer is H Y S T E R I C A L.

89. The Ice Caves of Hoth
The fridge freezer is crammed full of flasks of chemicals, some dating back 3 decades, encased in ice. You know they haven't been touched. When is the last time someone defrosted this thing? Never, because some of those chemicals may be poisonous, explosive, volatile, or a mix of those three. You sure as hell aren't going to chip them out. And where would you store them as the freezer thawed? Never mind the act of thawing itself could destabilize them...

90. Bin of Miscellaneous Capacitors
Before sticking your hand in the bin, you hope nobody decided to charge any of the larger ones as a prank.

91. The POS manual multichannel pipettor
Not one of these new-fangled ergonomic ones, this thing is Gen 1, and requires the thumbs of Samson to successfully load all the wells of a 96-well plate, and you only put up with it because it's marginally better than doing it with a single channel. I say marginally because even though it's 12 times faster every damn time you use it 3 tips fall off.

It wouldn't be so bad if the product vendors weren't showcasing the sweet electronic ones at every trade show. The new ones come with blue tooth. Fucking Blue Tooth! Why does a pipette need bluetooth? I have no idea but I want one. Maybe it can display your text messages or stream Pandora while you're in the BSC.

92. The Spectrophotometer that time forgot
It's enormous, so big it there is an entire bench dedicated to its girth. The electronics are so old I'm pretty sure it's using vacuum tubes, and none of the cuvettes we have for it hold volumes less than an entire mL. But we'll never get rid of it, because it has a prism monochronometer and the new ones with diffraction gradients just aren't as accurate. So you sit there like a submarine pilot slowly turning a wheel the size of your head to zero it while you avoid the frayed 50 year-old cord.

93. The Klett Colorimeter
The boss saved this from the scrap heap when the prof down the hall retired. He grabbed it with the intention of saving us all so much time, and showed us how it can use a flask with a side tube to check the growth of cultures. Years later no one uses it because a) we only have the one flask that can actually use it and b) it's readout is some strange unit called 'kletts' that no one in the lab understands or cares to learn.

94. The piece of equipment that is in no way shape or form applies to any of the lab's research
We study yeast. It's a single cellular organism. Why on earth do we need a dissecting microscope? The last time someone used it was to pull a splinter out of their finger.

95. 1960's Dual Beam oscilloscope.
The once faithful servant of Nobel luminaries during their journeys to unlock the mysteries of the brain. Recent distinctions: sturdy shelf.  

96. The Heavy Metals
When the group moved in 13 years ago, they brought their heavy metals cabinet with them from the University they used to work at. They didn't tell anybody.

Health & Safety found out and had hysterics. But it was too late. Try as they might they couldn't find a way to get it out of the building legally. So it sits there on the wall, brooding. It'll last you awhile, too; either the minimum quantity for most of these salts was huge or somebody wanted to buy in bulk. That 200g bottle of thallium salts isn't going anywhere soon.

97. 3kg of crack cocaine
Never entrust the ordering of important things to idiots. Instead of buying 3kg of cocaine hydrochloride, they bought 3kg of freebase cocaine. You tried to return it, but got lost in a maze of controlled drugs legislation. So it lurks in the bottom of the controlled drugs cabinet. It used to be a powder but over the years it has fused into a single, 3 kilo rock. The chief tech keeps saying that they'll get rid of it next time we have the drugs squad round to witness controlled drugs disposal, but that never happens.

98. Huge multi-horsepower industrial motor with bare cables sticking out, unlabeled screw terminals, or connectors of unknown design
You start designing a large testbed to test some controller concepts on. You need a motor or two for this thing and start rummaging through the cabinet... you know, the one with a ton of old motors. Some used to have hard-wired cables on them which had been cut off, probably to wire up to an unmatched amp with different connectors. Others have a row of screw terminals... what are these things? The nameplate has either fallen off or has been scratched to hell... is it synchronous AC? Brushless DC? Two-phase? Three-phase? What's the power rating? Is that a gearhead attached to the end of it or is this thing direct drive? What's the torque constant? You think about making an educated (heh) guess and hooking one up to one of the amps being used on another testbed. Maybe you'll use that one that's being funded with the NSF grant. Then you imagine 20 amps running through wiring designed for 10. Fuses? Circuit breakers? We're MEs, dammit, not EEs!!! You further imagine explaining to your advisor why his four-year grant is now in jeopardy because you burnt out his testbed.

As you look further at this thing you start to think about mounting it. That's a strange bolt pattern. Different sized holes and non symmetric. Large quantities of raw aluminum aren't cheap, and neither is the time of the guys over in the machine shop who won't let students near any of the good tools.

Fuck it. Where's the Parker catalog?

99. Huge pile of dusty boxes
Based on the variety of odd foam inserts, these are clearly the storage and shipping boxes for something huge and expensive. Labeled "DO NOT DISCARD", they linger underneath lab tables for decades in case you might ever need to take whatever it was completely apart and mail each of its components back to the manufacturer in Equador.

100. Giant tube of stopcock grease
This is a genetics lab; you do not use complicated glassware set-ups. Yet there it is, a humorously large and ancient tube of stopcock grease just waiting for the post docs to come up with novel obscene uses.

101. Thing that looks like a giant French press
It has a cylindrical glass container, and a huge wheel at the top that screws down some sort of pressing plate. But what does it press? The plate doesn't fit into the container - it would simply shatter the glass if you cranked it all the way down. Is this some kind of hideous torture chamber for mice?

102. Mystery gel solid
It's cold room clean-out day! And in the very back, lost to the sands of time, is a glass jar full of some sort of solidified thing. It looks a lot like agar - was someone prepping plates for yeast? Or maybe it's agarose for a gel - have they added the ethidium bromide yet? The only clue is an old blurred label that looks like it says 4-25...or is that a G? Biosafety refuses to dispose of it until you can tell them what it is.

103. Pile of PS2-port keyboards and mice
Every computer in the lab has a keyboard and mouse already. Yet the pile remains...

104. The world's first multichannel pipetor
It's a broken off plastic serological pipet, somehow fused to a white plastic crossbar with 8 small-diameter metal tubes sticking out of the bottom, kind of like a tiny squared-off garden rake. Clearly this is left over from when your lab was taking its first hesistant steps into the world of high throughput. How on earth did anyone measure things accurately with this device? It seems held together by lab tape.

105. Shotgun Shells.
Fed up with everything else in the lab being an absolute mess, someone organized a lab clean up. They found a box of 12 gauge shells in the cabinet next to the O2 tanks. Upon further investigation, the lab manager said that they were used (along with the shotgun, which was in his office) to shoot down tree branches which were then hurriedly collected and measured. He also said he was looking for these so that he could shoot the groundhogs and chipmunks that were getting into the greenhouses, located in the center of the campus.