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June 11, 2006
Vial Thirty-Three: The Third Run
Friday afternoon I got my results for the repeated experiment I spoke about here. Unfortunately, it matches the second run (the one that looks like garbage) rather than the first one (which looked like something wonderful). Unless I can think of some reason why that first run was different than the other two - and I was trying to make all three exactly the same - this forces me to conclude that the first experiment was some sort of false-positive artifact.
That's particularly hard to take because it looked so believable. The few colleagues I showed the initial data to were impressed by how clean it looked. And it made chemical sense as well, but that's all very close to being beside the point. I'm just glad that I didn't run up and down the halls showing it off, but I've been doing science too long to do that with n-of-one data, and this is a good illustration of the point.
So, what next? Well, when I set up that first experiment, I also ran another one on a different system, which has been in the freezer since then. It appears that freezing these experiments doesn't hurt them, so I'm going to try to thaw those out and get them analyzed. And none of this affects the positive results I spoke about here, on the model system. Those actually have repeated and made it past the control experiments. I've got an extension of that work coming up as well.
What I may have to do is fall back to the model work and beat on it some more. It looks like I need to see if I can understand more of what's happening before I try these gold-medal real world experiments again. I still have something - just not as much as I thought I did a couple of weeks ago.
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