In engineering or science world, there are two types of person. First type of person is the numerical/computational guy. They are the one that can solve any kinds of problem just using a computer. Frankly, if they have motto, it will be: “If I can have computer, I can solve every problem…”. The other type of person is the experimentalist. Unlike the numerical guy, the experimentalist must do an experiment to solve a problem (Yeah, just a problem, not any problem:D). Yes, the experimentalist also uses computer for their own stuff (like data acquisition, etc), but sadly, they also need to do experiment to solve a problem, because either they cannot do computer simulation or they need to validate the result of computer simulation. Sadly (but also proudly), I falls into the category of the experimentalist.
The thing of being an experimentalist is that our problems comes from everywhere. For the numerical guy, if they have a problem, it can be only two things: either something is wrong with their code or something is wrong with their computer. Unfortunately, for us, it is not that simple. Problems can be from everywhere. It can be from our code, from our computer, from our experimental tools, from the experiment condition (air condition, electricity, and other stuff), from the measurement, and even from a simple college rules that restricted students from being in the lab later than 5PM (No offense).
To make things worse, I live in Indonesia. That means it is harder to get an experiment equipments and tools that we wanted, it is also hard to repair any broken experiment equipments and tools, and the worst things is: we still gotta do the experiment with all the limitations. In overseas country, the experimentalist buy this tool from here, that tools from there, and so on. In Indonesia, we made them ourselves or improvise by substituting them.
Yesterday, I was doing a quite intense experiment trial-and-error with my lab partner (partners in suffering:D). Then it got me thinking. If all the experimentalist from all over the world are gathered and are put to a contest, I think the experimentalists from Indonesia will be the best and win. Why? Here is the reasons why:
- We are more persistent, unyielding, and patient. Due to several limitations in the equipment or facility, sometimes we must repeat the experiment several times until we got a good result and this is not an easy stuff. We have to recalibrate, redo the experiment, redo data processing, and so on. As the result, we become tougher than any other experimentalists. If the experiment’s result is bad, we’ll redo it with patient and persistent, while others may be frustrated, angered, cried, or even given up:D.
- We are more creative and flexible. Sometimes we need a certain equipments/tools for a specific purpose. Unfortunately, these things are either hard to find, too expensive to buy, or too long to order it. As the consequence, we become very adaptable and capable to make the simpler version of the needed tools fast and cheap. Sometimes, even these things are created from unused junk in the lab. That’s why some people call us scavenger:D.
- We take a very good care of our experiment equipments and tools. Yes, we can’t afford to break any of our equipments/tools. One slip from the hand and it would take forever to repair. Why? Because these equipment are very rare to find in Indonesia and the manufacturer does not have any office in here. So, we take a good care of our tools. We handle them with extreme caution, we don’t let other people touch them, we wrapped them up inside bubble wrap most of the times, we place insurance on them, and we sing lullaby for them every single night:D.
- (This one only applies to my research groups in my lab) We are a hell of perfectionist. All thanks to my adviser that won’t let us graduate unless we get very good result on experiments, we are indirectly become perfectionist also. A little noise in the data and we’ll redo the experiments. Thanks to our persistence and patience (point number one), we can fulfill our perfectionist needs and go on to redo the experiments.
Fiuh, well, I think I have said too much in this post. Right now, I’m gonna go to my lab and redo some experiments (see point number 1:D). Please note that this post is not intended to say that we, Indonesian experimentalist, are the best. I simply just wanna cheer myself up after doing a hell of experiments yesterday and gonna do some more today (again, see point number 1:D). So, I hope you enjoy this post as much as I do:D.