• Question: have any of your experiments gone horribly wrong?

    Asked by THE GREAT MANGO to Gavin, Mark, Michel, Roisin on 16 Nov 2016.
    • Photo: Gavin Coleman

      Gavin Coleman answered on 16 Nov 2016:

      Never horribly! often disappointingly, or in some cases expensively if I’ve used costly materials, but no experiment is ever a complete disaster, as it will normally highlight some error you overlooked, or some new phenomenon that you didn’t expect.

    • Photo: Roisin Jones

      Roisin Jones answered on 16 Nov 2016:

      I’ve had plenty of experiments that just haven’t worked, or that haven’t worked as well as I’d hoped, but I haven’t yet had any that went disastrously wrong (i.e. exploded or caught fire), and hopefully never will!

    • Photo: Mark Kennedy

      Mark Kennedy answered on 16 Nov 2016:

      Kind of horribly. I ended up pointing a space telescope called Swift (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swift_Gamma-Ray_Burst_Mission) at absolutely nothing for a couple of hours.

      Since Swift is a space telescope, operating it costs a lot of money. So I wasted (of order) $30,000 on this experiment of looking at nothing.

      Thankfully I didn’t pay for it. 😛 But I’m still trying to use the data to try and say why we saw nothing. See? Even seeing nothing and doing nothing is useful. 😛