The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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July 22, 2010

GAC prof foiled again

Latest prank deserves a silver medal

ST PETER — Gustavus Adolphus College science professor Scott Bur left for a week’s vacation this summer and, when he returned, he discovered his shiny new office. Real shiny. Really, really shiny.

None of his stuff was new, of course, but everything — literally everything — had been covered in shiny tin foil.

“It’s sort of become a tradition in my research group,” said Bur, who’d only managed to unwrap his coffee pot and a few other essentials by Thursday morning. “When I go on vacation and come back, I always find something.”

The last time this happened, Bur came back to find his office transformed into a princess sanctuary. Pink drapings and pretty bows covered everything. A pink glow emanated from the room that could be seen across campus.

This time, though, as one student put it, it was time for something “epic.”

Nothing was done to Bur’s office last year, so the students needed to amp up their efforts this year.

They took a week, said Kristen Jahr, a senior from Proctor majoring in biochemistry. They did a little bit at first, then, as college students are wont to do, they crammed most of the work in on the day before Bur returned.

The results are extraordinary. Nothing was left unfoiled. Computer screen, chairs, the ceiling, the floor — all covered in foil. Books and pens were wrapped individually.

The cords that lead from the computer and phone to the wall? Hard-wired with foil. The coffee pot? Call it the sterling silver blend. Even the delicate model of a molecule was painstakingly covered in what looked like “Ag,” (the symbol for silver on the periodic table of elements.)

Pens had been wrapped and set inside a test tube rack. The phone. A ball cap. A bottle. Everything. Wrapped in foil.

It gave Bur a good laugh.

“I have a sense of humor,” he said. “It’ll be a long time before everything’s unwrapped, but it’s a pretty good prank.”

The students used 10, 200-foot rolls of tin foil. They teamed up to pay for it all.

“We were left keys,” Jahr said. “It was an open invitation.”

She was part of the princess prank as well. This one involved a lot more work. But Bur’s reaction, she said, was worth it.

“’Tin foil? Really?’” Jahr recalls Bur saying. “Opens the door: “Holy ----!”


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