well, shit.

Like pretty much everyone, I’ve been using Tris-based buffers for nucleic acid electrophoresis since I started doing it. Turns out that the buffering capacity of the solution makes no real difference, and what you really want is a solution that doesn’t carry so much current (and therefore doesn’t generate as much heat; I’ve melted TAE/agarose gels before). I guess something was lost in translation between the interview and the article, because “carries a voltage” is meaningless to me. Also, I note that Kern and Brody have “filed for a provisional patent on the sodium boric acid solution” — bwahahahaha! Good luck enforcing that. (In defence of the researchers, I suspect that beancounting shitbags at Johns Hopkins have made such idiocy mandatory.)
What’s great about this is that everyone has been doing it the same way for thirty years, not bothering to think about improving the method since it worked well enough and, you know, that’s the way everyone does it. Now these guys come along and deliver a smack-your-forehead moment to every molecular biologist in the world. *smacks self in forehead*
What’s bad about this is that my one burning scientific ambition is to get a methods paper like this published, and I’m insanely envious. Why didn’t I think of this? (Don’t answer that.)

4 thoughts on “well, shit.

  1. Great piece. Good choice of subject. You obviously get it.
    Check out Cancer Biology & Therapy 2004, the Sept 11 issue.
    “Stagnation and Herd Mentality in the Biomedical Sciences.”

  2. Dr Dietz: yes, they do. From the paper that prompted this entry (Biotechniques. 2004 Feb;36(2):214-6), the relevant section is:


  3. senn, we recently ordered a bottle of the SBA solution from Drs. Brody and Kern. It’s great stuff. Your’re right about it running a bit hot at the voltages they recommend — we diluted it to .5X and it’s nice and cool.

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