My favourite experiment is called parthenogenetic activation, which sounds pretty complicated!
It’s basically how I trick my human egg cells (oocytes) into developing into an embryo without them being fertilised. Eggs are not very clever, and if you put them in a solution containing calcium, they think that a sperm has entered them, and fertilised them I then give them another drug which make the egg keep all its 46 chromosomes ( it should throw half of it’s chromosomes away, in preparation for fertilisation) and bingo, the egg should start to divide.
I then have to carefully watch the embryo over the next 6 days as it divides to give about 100 cells, and on day 5 it undergoes a process called compaction, which is the first time, we see the stem cells. This is really exciting to watch under the microscope and if it gets to this stage (which is quite rare) I get pretty excited!!
Seeing how long I can hold my breath underwater (but that’s for fun, not part of my work!). My research is “exploration science” – not all science involves experiments. I do some experiments, such as putting things down in the deep ocean to see what colonises them – but not much.
the sort that you made up half as a joke, that you really shouldn’t have done, but you do anyway as a bet with one of your students, which then works really well, surprisingly well, so you repeat it, and then it starts to define your career, and you’ve actually discovered something.
I don’t do experiments as part of my work as I’m a theoretical physicist – I calculate stuff instead, which is kind of like a “virtual” experiment.
I do like doing home science experiments with my kids though – my 5 year old is just getting to the age where he thinks it’s fun! Our favourite so far is making red cabbage juice and using it to test the acidity of various stuff we could find in the kitchen, he liked all the different colours! 😀