The best lab prank ever...

Feb 21 2011 Published by under Grad School, Pranks

So I was talking to a friend of mine about how we used to play lab pranks back in the day when I used to be known as Canz, and I used to be a bit of a motherfucker back then.  The best prank we ever played together was on a technician from another lab named Carl.  This prank was epic and honestly we probably should have been fired for what happened to Carl and the darkroom.  But first, why play a prank on Carl?  Glad you asked, Carl was a bit of a prankster himself and would set up timers all over the place to go off in a coordinated sequential manner.  And I mean he hid them everywhere, I shit you not I had to get a ladder to get up into our 15 foot vaulted ceiling to get one down.  He would also rewire your computer setup, good luck printing shit.  After getting pranked by Carl, the departmental jokester, a couple of times it was time he paid the piper.

So let's get to the organizing of the prank.  We knew that day that Frank was going to have to go into the dark room to process expose and develop a western blot.  This was going to be the site of the prank.  So we went around to all the other labs and warned them to stay the hell away from the dark room.  I went to a store that rhymed with Smadio Smack and purchased five 130 db personal safety alarms, the ones that have the pull pins to activate, and grabbed some fishing line from my apartment before returning to work.

We wired the alarms in place, I'll get to the details of this later and turned off the lights.  And then we just waited, along with everyone else on the floor who knew what was about to happen.  I grabbed one of those wooden triangle blocks that you use to hold doors open and traversed the hallway as Carl was walking to the dark room.  As soon as he went into the revolving door, I took off like a fucking gazelle for the door and jammed the wedge in so the door couldn't open.

Poor Carl, as he stepped out of the revolving door, his foot kicked the first trip wire, pulling the pin out of what is ostensibly an alarm that a college coed would carry on their person at night walking home from the library.  Well in the small confined spaces of the darkroom, pulling the pin activated a 130 db alarm that is almost as loud as a plane taking off.  The only way to shut off the alarm is to put the pin back into the alarm, not easy in the dark, especially when the light switch is all the way across the room.

I imagine Carl tried to make his way across the room to the light switch but he activated the four alarms which made the room deafening.  By the time he got the lights on and saw all the pins, Carl was left with the choice of taking his hands from his ears to put the pins back in leaving him vulnerable to the alarm or just run back out of the darkroom.  Carl chose the running option.  Unfortunately the little door jam was still in place, Carl about ripped the revolving door off his frame trying to get out, while I'm trying to get the fucking door jam out to let him out.

At this point, I go in with some ear plugs and put all the pins back in and come back out of the darkroom to find Carl laying on the ground holding his ears and tears running down his face.  Luckily Carl suffered no permanent hearing damage, but his hearing was shot for the rest of the day.

Best prank the lab.

19 responses so far

  • Jade says:

    Oh my god. Laughing my ass off. Thanks for this story.
    You made him cry? For real? That's not nice.
    Did Carl stop playing pranks after that?

  • Dr 29 says:

    Wow .... just wow .... best prank ever ... and glad he doesn't have permanent hearing damage. I'm trying to think of a prank or something similar, and what only comes to mind is some of my labbies and I hiding the micropipettes from one of the other postdocs in the lab who comes in at 0'dark-hundred and leaves at 0'darkhundred ... he wasn't too amused, but they were easy to find.

  • I always preferred the simple pranks, like slip-a-dry-ice-eppendorf-bomb-under-the-bench.

  • rachel says:

    This is so funny.... I loved it !. Poor Carl.. he learned for the rest of his life....
    Genomic Repairman you're the King of Vindictiveness and i guess that you never have to get a ladder to get up into our 15 foot vaulted ceiling.... No timers around so that the experiments could go on forever untimed

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ian Yorston, Genomic Repairman, 29 and a PhD, Jade Ed, ScientopiaBlogs and others. ScientopiaBlogs said: The best lab prank ever… [...]

  • becca says:

    Yeouch. The sequential timer thing makes this seem like a bit of karma. Still, I'm sensitive enough to loud noises that I winced at this. Seems cruel.

  • becca says:

    How did he get it up there in the first place???

    • I'm assuming he got physical plant to bring him a ladder and he put it up there before I got to work. Back then I wouldn't show up at work until 10am because I would work till 2-3am the night before. I had crazy work hours back then and only lived four blocks away from work so I could go back and forth all day long.

  • Kevin Z says:

    Nice. When I was packing for my first research expedition, the lab filled my cubicle with packing peanuts. Apparently they had been saving them from weeks, getting the janitors in on it. They filled it up while I was TAing intro bio. Pictures are here:

    I got them all back by squeezing fish bait in all their seat cushions where it slowly and gently rotted away producing quite a stench emanating from their bottoms, that for about 5-6 days no one could figure out. It was great. They were emptying trashcans, opening ducts to look for small dead animals, etc. I just acted like nothing was out of the ordinary.

  • Mike B says:

    Heh, the chemistry grad students at University of Illinois when my father was there apparently made this sort of stunt look tame. I recall one story my dad mentioned where someone mixed up a (very minor) pressure-sensitive explosive in a bag of flour and pushed the mix under the target's door. The explosive went off and sent flour everywhere, but the cruel part is when the guy was trying to vacuum up the mess the explosive kept going off and shooting the flour all over again :).

    Of course, they occasionally backfired; one guy swiped some pure iodine crystals for a prank but wrapped them in aluminum foil to take them home(see the top vid at for why that's a BAD idea). Cue people getting woken up at 3AM by a guy swearing and beating flames out of his hastily removed pants in the middle of campus...

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