For the many years I was away at school in Providence, this bike hang neglected in a shed at my parents’ house. Upon rediscovering my bike, I decided I ought to fix it up. Lacking the tools myself, I took it to my lab. One of my favorite things about being a scientist/engineer is having access to tools and chemicals in a lab. Plus–I must be honest here–I sometimes imagine that people must think my work is more important if I do it in a lab. Pinch of salt in water in your kitchen? You’re making pasta. Do the same in a lab? You’re increasing the ionic strength of your solution by dissociating sodium chloride in deionized di-hydrogen monoxide. Where was I? My bike.

So my bike is the lab, but unfortunately it isn’t being fixed. Normally by the time I’m done with work I just want to head home and eat (or work on the guillotine). Such is the case for a few weeks, until I get an email from a labmate saying something like:

“The way we keep our bikes on the lab is a fire hazard. If your bike is blocking the exit, please move it”

Naturally, I go to investigate. Fortunately, my bike was not among those blocking the lab exit. Unfortunately, my bike was not in the lab at all.

Had someone moved it and not told me about it? Seemed unlikely, seeing as there were still 3 bikes blocking the fire exit. Had I moved it back to my house and forgotten about it? Also seemed like a big stretch. Leading hypothesis: it was stolen.

It’s bad when things stolen, in general. It’s really bad when things are stolen from a lab. Between the hazardous chemicals and expensive instruments, bikes are actually the last thing I’d worry about.

I immediately alerted all the lab members in an email outlining my investigations and the possible models needed to explain the phenomena of the missing bike.

An hour or so later I received an email from my P.I.: “I have the bike…”

The possibility that my boss had stolen my bike had not crossed my mind. As it turned out, she had lent it to her visiting father, thinking it was a bike belonging to the lab. He proceeded to tune it up, fixing the breaks, trueing a wheel, and replacing the pedals. When my P.I. returned the bike to me, she let me keep the pedals!

So it turns out taking your bike to the lab will end up with it getting fixed up, though it may get stolen along the way.


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