Pointless-omics – The Curious Trend Of Grad Students Drowning In Big Data

Sunday, October 16, 2022

In the latest report by EH&S, a surprising and worrying trend was detected.

In 2019, UCSF’s greatest safety violation problem was researchers eating bananas and drinking coffee in labs spaces. In 2020, no one was caught as everyone was working remotely or with spaced out manpower, which might have included EH&S.

If you eat a banana in a wet lab space but no one sees you it is not a safety violation, right? (Please remember this is fake news.)

This year in 2022 however, EH&S reported 42 incidents never seen before safety violations instead and surprisingly, none of them occurred in wet labs. Rather, most of these incidents happened outside of wet lab spaces.

The phenomenon of drowning in silico in big data has been on the uptick ever since 2020, probably in part due to everyone having to have a computational aspect of their project due to remote work.

Drowning in big data is not new. A 2018 report in Forbes indicated that 90% of the data in the world was generated in the last 2 years. While 34.7% of this data was mainly cat pictures and internet memes, and the occasional snarky tweet on scientific twitter, a large treasure trove of data remained.

Metabolomics, genomics, pharmaco-omics, economics, pharmacomicrobiomics! Oh the possibilities!

More data than ever is present, making it easier than ever for us to make new discoveries and pushing science’s boundaries like we never had before. But at the same time, countless clueless grad students now face the problem of figuring out how to make sense of a mountain of data with no clear paths or direction.

“It was like entering a dense forest at dusk with no lamp or phone” one survivor of big data drowning said, “I was making plot after plot after plot after plot, for months and months. But ultimately, I still lost the plot and was lost. I was just going in circles with no end. The more I looked though, the deeper I thought I was getting, but the only place I ended up was with my face smashed on my keyboard from sheer tiredness.”

Student health and counselling has noticed this phenomenon too and cautions the public to look out for signs against drowning in silico. Just like how one inch of water can cause a toddler to drown, 1 Gigabyte of data can cause a grad student to go into a never-ending downward spiral they might never recover from.

Initial symptoms of drowning in big data include a listless dead look in your eyes, general aches and pains, snacking every hour and a consistent need for caffeine. Late-stage big data drowning however, is much more serious, having symptoms such as shortness of breath (from anxiety), increased heart rate, light headedness and an impending sense of doom.

Student health has cautioned however, that these late-stage symptoms are also rather general and can be confused with pulmonary embolism.

There is currently no cure for big data drowning. Case reports have shown that in silico CPR using Ctrl+Alt+Delete, previously developed to save us from the blue screen of death, has not proven to improve survival rates in this case. Instead, it has led to more tears and frustrations and further downward spirals for the affected grad students instead as they forgot to save their work before in silico CPR was administered.

Concerned, the graduate division has decided to embark on a study to find out which students were the most affected by this new trend of drowning in big data. A study protocol has been submitted to survey the student population and generate large amounts of data, ranging from student demographics, to genomic and immune system profiles.

Oh wait. There we go again!