This is one of those moments when you rock back in your chair with a contemplative pained look on your face. A time for a stiff shot of scotch instead of popping the cork on a bottle of champagne. Let me tell you a little story.
About 10 minutes after we completed the analysis and write up of the all the data, we made the decision to try to get a couple calibration runs done in Helium so we would have some way to prove the active wire was installed in an equivalent manner. The first thing we decided to do was to purge the cell of hydrogen by heating it in a vacuum. The problem was, I didn't compensate the power setting for being in a vacuum instead of a gas with good thermal conductivity.
The wires got bright red and threw off enough atoms to coat the glass in nice spirals of copper on the inside. The white Macor in cell 1.1 (on the right) turned black like it was spray painted.
The glass will be easy to replace. The real worrying part for me is whether the wire supports will clean up easily, or will need to be replaced. If we need to replace the supports, it will take longer. Any which way, when we get it put back together we will have to run a few test cycles and see if still performs the same way. If it doesn't fit the nice baselines we just developed, then the team will be set back over a week because we'll have to redo the test runs and all the analysis after refurbishing the cells.
The real kicker is that this same thing happened to Mathieu several weeks ago and I still made the mistake of specifying too high a power at the end of a long day of mental exertion and in the midst of enthusiasm to get the experiment rolling.
To help us all get through this, I need a little help from this highly international audience. In the comments below, please put some appropriate curses in whatever language you like to curse in. Thanks.