• Question: has any of your experiments gone wrong?

    Asked by naila_ j666 on 12 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      They only go wrong if I make a mistake!
      Sometimes thought an experiment wont do what you thought it might. This doesn’t mean the experiment didn’t work it means that your hypothesis was wrong. It’s often best if you don’t assume you know what’s going happen that way you can be open to different outcomes. You can always learn something from a well designed experiment!

    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      I wouldn’t say any of my experiments have gone wrong, although occasionally we get a result we are not expecting, but those results are still really important, and often end up more interesting that if we had got a result in line with our hypothesis.

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      Most of my experiments are on the computer so they don’t take too long to run and, if I make a mistake, then it’s pretty quick and easy to fix.

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 13 Jun 2019:


      The short answer to this for any scientist is yes. No matter what, everyone will make a mistake somewhere along the line in their experimenting career. What makes a good scientist, is either being able to then make that wrong right again or to work out why it went wrong and start again

    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 15 Jun 2019: last edited 15 Jun 2019 3:21 pm


      Sure – plenty of times, and for different reasons. Sometimes I, or another person I am working on an experiment with makes a mistake (we’re all human), sometimes one of the instruments we are using fails due to a technical issue, or there was a manufacturing issue with a batch of reagent we ordered from a company. Some of these things are outside of your control, as in every walk of life! If you don’t get the results you expect it’s crucial to figure out why – not only could this highlight errors, it could help you discover a really important aspect of biology that no one else had thought about – this is how some of the world’s most important discoveries were made! It can be frustrating or demoralising when you don’t get the results you hoped for, but disproving your own hypothesis with a well controlled experiment is not ‘an experiment gone wrong’, it’s an essential part of the scientific process and shows the ‘machine of the scientific method’ is working!

    • Photo: Kate Timms

      Kate Timms answered on 17 Jun 2019:


      Often. So many of them as super sensitive to anything tiny that goes wrong. And since they have hundreds of things that can go wrong, they often do. You just have to have the resilience to start over again.

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