Bonus Video 1: War Stories


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MIT professors, grad students, and undergrads share their laboratory horror stories, and Lina learns from their mistakes.

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» Download English-US transcript (PDF)

HANSOL: She's our TA. TAs know everything.


LINA: Something bad happened. My flask tipped over. Something bad always happens whenever I do an experiment. It's either my flask tips over or something explodes. Do you make mistakes too?

PHIL: I still make mistakes.

LINA: Wait really? What did you do?

PHIL: What did I do?

LINA: Yeah.

PHIL: I've had some pretty bad days.

KATHARINA RIBBECK: My worst day in lab...

JUSTIN BULLOCK:It's more like a worse like two weeks.

GRACE YAO: My worst day in lab had to be the day where I had to smash fish.

PHIL: One day in undergrad, I was re-crystallizing something on a hotplate.

NICOLE KAVANAUGH: I was doing an RNA purification.

GRACE YAO: First of all, I'm a little scared of fish. I had this mortar and pestle.

PHIL: I set up this big huge two liter flask on a ring stand and everything connected to a hose

GRACE YAO: And I had to put the little fish in and smash it to powder. The fish head just flew off onto the floor

PHIL: And before I could fasten it, the hose whipped the flask across the room and it shattered all over.

NICOLE KAVANAUGH: And I made some poison gas.

JUSTIN BULLOCK: By the end, I pretty much had nothing left and it was just a failure.

PHIL: You're going to cry at that point. Your day cannot get any worse than that.

ALONA BIRJINIUK: The very first time it's always nerve-wracking. This is your experiment. And if things don't go right-

BEN OFORI-OKAI: There are going to be times where you may not feel like your going to be capable. But the truth is that you actually are. You just have to like step back, take a deep breath, remember like who you are like where you came.

KATHARINA RIBBECK: You have failures of course. And you're very disappointed and then redo it. But this is local and then you have to move on.

LINA: Something bad always happens and I always have to start over. But Tengfei told me that when she was an undergrad she was even worse than I was and look at her now. She's teaching us how to do all these things. It's so encouraging because if she can learn, then I can learn too. And someday I'll be just as good as she is.

PHIL: Oh wow, I really should've been wearing safety glasses here.