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The Golden Rotor Award (was "The Exterminator")

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  • ejfried@ca.sandia.gov
    ... Long ago in another life (between college and grad school) I was a technician in a biochemistry lab. We had all sorts of neat toys including high-speed
    Message 1 of 8 , May 13, 2003
      I think Derek J. Buckley wrote:
      >
      > One place I used to work (non XP) the development team had a few
      > "trophies" that were passed around as silent indicators of your goofs.
      >

      Long ago in another life (between college and grad school) I was a
      technician in a biochemistry lab. We had all sorts of neat toys
      including high-speed centrifuges. One day my assigned taks included
      spinning down some cell cultures in a centrifuge. I hadn't gotten much
      training, and so when it came time to load centrifuge tubes into the
      heavy metal rotor, I used glass ones. Then I set the centrifuge to the
      prescribed speed, something like 20,000 RPM.

      Well, the thing is, glass tubes can't take the G-forces at 20,000
      RPMs, and they literally turn to dust. You need to use plastic ones
      above 1,000 RPM or so. The dust and cell cultures leaked from the
      rotor and made a real mess; the centrifuge needed to be serviced by
      the vendor to restore it to operation. I was pretty redfaced, but
      no-one made a big deal out of it.

      A few days later I was called away from my desk to a room where much
      of the lab's staff was assembled. With some fanfare, I was presented
      with a large, heavy, golden object: the Golden Rotor Award. The
      expensive centrifuge rotor was completely destroyed by being pitted
      with glass dust, and so the folks in the lab had cleaned it,
      spray-painted it gold, and awarded it to me as a memento of the
      experience. Once a month or so, from then on, the rotor would be
      awarded to whoever made the biggest gaffe since the last award. It was
      really a lot of fun and it was an honor to have been the founder.

      A vaguely software-related aside: the centrifuge had a horrible
      interface. If glass tubes can't be used in the high-speed centrifuge,
      then they shouldn't fit in the rotor. There should be different
      shape/size tubes for each application. Type safety, as it were.


      ---------------------------------------------------------
      Ernest Friedman-Hill
      Distributed Systems Research Phone: (925) 294-2154
      Sandia National Labs FAX: (925) 294-2234
      PO Box 969, MS 9012 ejfried@...
      Livermore, CA 94550 http://herzberg.ca.sandia.gov
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