Let this be a warning to bosses and pompous big shots in labs around the United States: It's that time of year again when your students and your colleagues are busy devising devilish ways to prick your balloon. What's that? This article reached you too late? April Fool!

FISHING FOR LAUGHS: Jeffrey Maynes, "troublemaker-in-chief" as a postdoc at U. Alabama, turned a colleague's lab into an undersea scene.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "practical joke" as "a mischievous trick played on a person especially to cause him to feel embarrassment or indignity," and April is high season for practical jokes. But people who work in labs can be mischievous any time of the year. A good practical joke can cut through tension, enliven the day, and promote group cohesion.

On the other hand, "telling jokes, particularly practical jokes, is a risky business," advises Patt Schwab, a Seattle-based consultant who specializes...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?