Friday, December 19, 2008

I Think About Elevators

Desperately trying to cheer myself up from the travails of grad school, I was doing what I normally do at about this time and repeatedly pulling up random xkcd comics. Which I realize is something that's probably overdone, but it goes well with my threadless t-shirts and my bad-tasting-but-attractively-priced-alcohol and my awful music and everything else which has rendered me a soulless brand-hungry homunculus.

That not withstanding, I eventually ran across this which reminded me of something I occasionally thought of and something I was talking about yesterday.

Imagine you're completely unfamiliar with the concept of an elevator. You've never seen one before, you've never ridden in one before. They are completely foreign to you. Now let's say you're following your friend around a building and he gets in. Let's also postulate that this is the smoothest elevator ever, so it's hard to tell when you're moving (adding that bit back in is a bit farther in the thought experiment). He presses a button, and you move down into the basement.

From your perspective, you entered a room, pressed a button and when the doors opened again, the entire world was different. You were in a different place. Sure, you'd probably figure out (especially if you could feel the motion) that you'd been in a box that was suspended in a shaft and that you simply moved down the shaft, but I'd be really tempted to think that it was a magical world-changing box.

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