Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Cost of Powerloss

Random story I thought was pretty funny. 

Yesterday at work the power blipped out, then went out for a few hours. When my lab was sitting around we started estimating how much the department lost because of the lack of power. Use of the sequencing machines to generate genome sequences (i.e. DNA) cost about $40K a run and we had more than ten running at the time of the blip. So, with those runs, the preparation of samples for redoing the sequencing, salaries for the lab workers to reproduce these preps., and anything else that may have been running it easily could be half a million dollars lost in about two seconds. The supercomputers, including my own work, also shut down, so when power turns back on I will see what the damage is for me.

The immediate response of most people was to run and check the -80º C freezers. When they found out theirs were not connected to emergency power, they were moved around quickly like bumper cars. These are very large freezers and it was hilarious to see corridors fill with these bulky objects (see left, which is normally clear). Everyone was looking for a non-standard plugs, powered by emergency generators, as the temperature rapidly increased for the precious samples held within.

My own difficulty came with the elevators being shut down. I work on the third floor so my plan was to wait out the power outage to avoid the stairs. Within 15 minutes the weather turned from sunny with blue skies to a snow squall. I decided that I had to take my chances with the stairs. As a result I will be down and out for the next few days; Gotta love neuropathic pain. Anyway I am home and safe with my doctor prescribed narcotics.

I will update with a picture of the hallway in its normal state when I get back in.

UPDATE: Here is the hallway in its normal condition: