Burning Down The House

, | Learning | September 4, 2013

(I am in calculus class. The professor is very much a geek, and I once saw him wearing a Portal t-shirt. A student points to a missing ceiling tile, through which some insulation can be seen.)

Student: “If there’s an earthquake, will all the asbestos fall out of the ceiling?”

Teacher: “There’s no asbestos.”

(The students start laughing.)

Teacher: “It’s not asbestos!”

Student: “You don’t know that!”

Teacher: “That is not asbestos! I know what asbestos is; that’s insulation. You know what asbestos is?”

Student: “It’s cancer.”

Teacher: “It is a cause of cancer. It’s a classification for any material that is made of fibrous minerals. So if you go to the natural history museum at the Smithsonian and go through their rock collection, you see the rocks that are growing hairs, that’s asbestos.”

(He goes into more detail about how asbestos was used before it was known to be dangerous. I raise my hand.)

Me: “And Cave Johnson loves it!”

(Several students begin to laugh.)

Another Student: “It keeps out the rats!”

(The teacher catches on and chimes in.)

Teacher: “When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Get the irony boys to make those lemons combust!”

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