Thursday, June 16, 2011


I used to work in a tall-ish building with hot, dim, smelly stairs, entirely filled with labs and scientists. (Everyone took the elevator.) So Dr. S and I have a long-running not-quite-joke: A scientist is someone who, seeing N people standing in front of the elevator, will still go push the "up" button.* Independent observations are key!

The other day Dr. S and a colleague went to a seminar. Two guys were standing outside. "It's locked," one said.

The colleague walked up and tried the door handle. It opened.** Dr. S laughed, and the other guys looked miffed.

A scientist is totally someone who will push the button again. Just in case.

*To be fair, the light was broken. But also, if ten people were waiting for the elevator, the 11th person would still push the button.

**Turns out they remotely unlock the doors right before the seminars. Anyhow.


  1. well of course they took the elevator: who wants to walk into a stairwell filled with scientists?

    our family's running elevator gag, science-y edition, goes like this: man arrives at elevator as doors are closing, sticks hand in to stop them.

    parent A: you can tell that man's not a surgeon.

    parent B: no. a surgeon would have used his head.

  2. Yes, well, I think an Ominous Silence interrupted my clause construction there. :) Given that last time was the bug spray, it seemed more expedient to hit 'publish' than to mop the floor again.

    I like the surgeon one. Their heads are, frequently, the least important part.

  3. SNORT! I'm in a department of social science, and on more than one occasion, I've stood at the elevator with multiple other people for multiple minutes before it's become clear that no one has pushed the button. To be fair, our elevator button doesn't work, such that when you push it it does not light up, but still. I'm sure there's a good joke in there somewhere about hard vs. soft science.

  4. Bunny, I think that says that social scientists are much better socialized than biologists! We're all: experimental, screw you and your expertise, prove it to me, I'm pushing the button myself. :) Besides, totally the same with the broken light! It is, in fact, kind of hilarious.


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