Timing is everything! I learned that the hard way just two weeks ago when I took my son to scout camp and thought I would try to capture the traditional American flag ceremony for posterity. I set up my camera for a panoramic shot and scanned the crowd. Feeling very pleased with myself, I got home that evening ready to show my family the great camera skills I had honed over the Summer months. To my horror, I noticed that half of the scout troop was saluting the flag while the other half were standing to attention! I had got the timing horribly wrong (although the picture is still fun to look at in a strange sort of way).
Timing is everything in science as well. As a technical services scientist at Promega I have sung the ‘timing’ tune to many a biologist. No more so than in the study of apoptosis where Caspases activate each other in a choreographed cascade of molecular triggers that all have their place and time in a domino sequence of enzymatic cleavage events. I frequently talk to researchers about that ‘sweet spot’ of activity when any given Caspase is busily cleaving a peptide moiety off of the next Caspase in the sequence. Finding that sweet spot is anything but trivial and often requires a considerable amount of patience during the optimization phase of experimentation.
Promega has developed a comprehensive suite of systems (see here) designed to help get the timing right for the cell and compound combinations you might be working with. The end result is that you have experiments that are timed so as to give you reliable information about what is really happening in your cells.