Recycled Tin

At times when I can’t think of anything to write I’m going to occasionally re-run old posts. This one is from February 2011 and is one of my favourites, not because it’s especially good, but because it’s the daftest idea for a story I’ve ever had. It’s about what happened when Pavlov’s dog and Schrodinger’s cat got delivered to the wrong owners…


It was late at night in the Geneva Institute, and as usual just two lights were burning, in two rooms side by side, as the two most dedicated scientists worked late into the night trying to finalise their experiments.

In his lab Doctor Pavlov pored over his notes again. The theory was sound – ring a bell and bring food, next day ring a bell and bring food, and eventually the animal should be eagerly salivating just upon hearing the bell. The problem was that Pavlov’s Cat did not do eagerly.

On the first day Pavlov rang the bell and brought food, which the cat gave that look of disdain achievable only by cats, Lady Bracknell and the French. The second day the cat simply wandered off and returned a few minutes later with a dead mouse. Since this was a scientific institute and therefore one of the most sterile and clean places on earth, Pavlov had no idea where he got it from.

Just as he had done on the previous two days he logged the date and approached the cat. He felt more hopeful today (third date, things might happen). He rang the bell.

Pavlov’s Cat stared icily at him for a moment, then slinked over and coughed a  furball into the Large Hadron Collider (this promptly appeared five galaxies away, now a million times larger, in the skies above the planet Xjrui, where it managed to eclipse all four of its suns at the same time).

Pavlov sighed, turned off his light, and went to the pub.

In the lab next door, Schrodinger was explaining his theory to his assistant, Igor. “You see, Igor, we have placed the animal in the box with a bottle of hydrochloric acid. Since we don’t know if he has broken the bottle or not until we open the box, we do not know whether he is alive or dead, therefore quantum physics would say that at this moment he is both alive AND dead.”

Igor had worked for Doctor Frankenstein, for Doctor Strangelove, for Doctor Bunsen Honeydew from the Muppets and for the guy who had invented cheese-strings, but reckoned that his new boss was the most batso yet.

“But he’s barking, master,” ventured Igor (and he’s not the only one, he thought).

This was true. Schrodinger’s Dog could be heard yapping excitedly inside the box. This took the phrase “and dead” out of Schrodinger’s theory, and any chance of the Nobel Prize out of his future.

He gave up and opened the box. The dog leapt happily out, knocking over the bottle as he did so. Since the fumes were released into a large lab rather than a small box, they caused only brief unconsciousness. The scientist woke a few minutes later to find the dog enthusiastically licking his face. He too went to the pub, where he met Pavlov.

As they sat morosely over their pints, Pavlov suddenly said “I’m giving all this up, and going into the food business. I have this great idea for a meringue-based dessert, the Pavlova I was thinking of calling it.”

“I know a bit about boxes,” offered Schrodinger. “I could make the cakeboxes.”

They clinked glasses and the deal was done. The world of science had lost two geniuses, but the sweet trolley had been changed forever.

4 thoughts on “Recycled Tin

  1. A Frend

    I somehow missed this the first time around, so thank you for re-running it and making me laugh.


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