Friday, April 17, 2015

Science nightmares

It's been a long week of late nights and late consultations at work.

Last night, I dreamed that I was up for my doctoral thesis defense and I couldn't find the presentation room, didn't have a presentation and I was pretty sure that I didn't have my Powerpoint slides. It has been quite a number of years (5+) since I somehow managed to squeak by successfully defended my thesis, so that was interesting. 

It has been the only time in my life where I have woken up from a dream and realized, "I need to blog about this." 

I also remember a time in graduate school where I dreamed my advisor looked at me and said "[CJ], I don't think you're Ph.D. material." Considering that he was always supportive of me (and continues to be), it was obviously my subconscious feelings of inadequacy at work. 

Readers, what have been your dreams about science been about? 

More coming, but have a great weekend! 


  1. I don't know why, but I don't remember any science dreams.

    Your dream sounds like ones I've had where I was taking a class (in psychology or something similar) and showed up for a test without having been to the class in ages, and having a paper due very soon with no work done. I didn't wake up sweating, but I still remember it.

  2. Dissertation nightmares are the worst. I've gotten good at recognizing that showing up naked for a class I had been skipping, only to discover that there is an exam that day is probably a dream. However, the ones about being stuck in my high-school junior english class or forgetting my locker combination are still pretty scary.

  3. I have had a dream since graduate school where I receive an email entitled "Work Ethic" from my advisor, where she basically tells me I'm not working enough. Luckily I never got that email, but I'm not in graduate school anymore, so I'd be happy to stop having this dream.

  4. I keep having one where I've just submitted my thesis (thankfully submitted 3 years ago...), only to be informed by the graduate school that my B.S. degree is being revoked because I forgot to take a required gen ed class. I usually spend the rest of the dream repeating my entire senior year of undergrad in order to get my Ph.D.

  5. I watched magic mike while preparing for my defense. Had a dream where after I gave the into to my defense, it just turned into a strip show until they awarded me summa cum laude.

    And the recurring dream that I did not finish undergrad because I forgot I was enrolled in a class and just never showed up. So they failed me.

    1. I've had the same dream! It was usually a PE course.

  6. The "I have not been to class all semester and now have to take a midterm" dream is pretty common. Almost everyone I went to school with has had that dream at least once. For me the class is always a high level math course. Chemistry related nightmares are always related to leaving a still running dry overnight or having a reflux condensor bust a connection and imagining a flooded lab. These always led to me getting up at night and driving down to the lab to make sure things were ok.

  7. The night before my defense I woke up nearly every hour with dreams where I was either arriving an hour late or not wearing my suit.

    As an undergrad, I had a dream where I snapped off pieces of a beaker and casually ate them. I even offered pieces to friends, but they all turned away in disgust.

  8. I swear that I am not making this up: don't even read this.
    This morning, I had a vivid dream that I am in the lab very late alone, in the small morning hours and I am attempting a lewd act with a vortex mixer (!) and it is going great - but suddenly two young colleagues arrive early and they walk in on me - and I died from shame in that dream. As I opened my eyes in horror I saw that I was already late for a company-wide meeting where a colleague was presenting the stuff I made. I just slept through two incredibly loud alarm clocks - the night before I stayed past midnight at work (but not with a vortex mixer) - if not for that NSFW dream I would embarrassed myself for real. With reckless driving I even made it before the last donut disappeared.

  9. A little background. In grad school I had an explosion involving nitric acid ending in a safety shower. I had chemical burns to my arms, and a couple very deep cuts.

    Many years later I was charged with the task of developing a procedure and scaling it in the pilot plant. The procedure used nitric acid, for which I have healthy respect. I made it through the development without any dreams, but a couple weeks after successful scale up in the pilot plant I had a nightmare. I dreamed it went horribly wrong in pilot plant. I woke up screaming in terror.

  10. I once had a dream that my advisor brought all of his students to a grassy hill for our weekly group meeting. He stood part-way up the hill while the rest of us sat at the bottom. One at a time, we were instructed to climb to the top of the hill, only to have him beat us back viciously with a large bamboo stick at every attempt. I'm really hoping we can avoid such behavior when I defend my dissertation later this year...

  11. My main recurring one is where I relive high school and find out that I flunked Physics and have to retake senior year. I had this dream the night after graduation from undergrad, the night after I defended the Ph.D., and the night after I accepted a tenure track position.

    The only other (weird) one I remember I can blame on one of my professors. During a grad school class once, one of our profs once recounted the story of how, as a young man, he was fired from working the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland for deviating from the script. That night I dreamed our entire research group was working on the ride after having group meeting in one of the boats. Years later I had that same dream again when I first heard Weird Al Yankovic's song about a washed up actor "Skipper Dan" working the ride.

  12. "The "I have not been to class all semester and now have to take a midterm" dream is pretty common."

    Well In my case it was not a dream...

    As an undergrad chem major I took a FORTRAN course as an elective (this was before PCs existed and FORTRAN was the language of choice for scientific/engineering coding )

    It was an 8 AM course and I've never been a morning person... so I had not made a class in about a month and walked into the mid-term having no clue it was happening... (at least for the Final I knew what day it was! )

    I went to a school with a Co-Op program and had taught myself coding there on my co-op job...

    I got an A in that course.

    If only PChem had been that easy! ;)

  13. A few people mentioned having to retake undergrad or high school after some problem with a prior degree emerged years later. I used to have the same thing after mastering out of grad school - for ~10 years after I got out, I had recurring nightmares that my advisor made me come back and do more experiments to keep my MS. I had a pretty bad time in grad school, so these dreams always scare me.

  14. I had a dream where I was in the lab working up a few reaction in only my underwear! Suddenly, there was a fire and I had to TA my lab class, I was standing in front of all the students really embarrassed and not sure how to proceed. This was point where I woke up and was super relived to be in bed :-)

  15. I had a dream that I had a steady job, was respected for my accomplishments, paid accordingly and was even able to settle down and have somewhat of a real life. But then I woke up.