Spot the Darwin!

July 25, 2018 • 7:50 am

by Greg Mayer

A colleague from another college stopped by, and mentioned that he and his colleagues are moving to offices in a new building, but that there are only two shelves in each, and they’re not allowed to bring in more shelves or files because “donors like it when all the offices look the same.” He wanted to take a picture of my office to show them what a “real” professor’s office looked like, and he used a spherical setting on his cell camera that stitches together a dozen or more photos to create the image below. [JAC: click twice to enlarge.]

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to spot the Darwin. Not books by or about Darwin, but a 3-dimensional representation of Darwin. It’s not a very hard one. There are lots of books by and about Darwin in my office, many of which are easy to find, and I’m not sure how many are there; so, your secondary mission is not to find Darwin books, but to find all four copies of books by Jerry. This will require more skill– don’t forget to doubleclick to enlarge. (Also, can you figure out the dimensions of the office?) As usual, the prize will be bragging rights.


60 thoughts on “Spot the Darwin!

  1. Heh. I found Darwin.

    I think you can recover a bit of space, safely, by getting rid of that old Quattro Pro.

    1. Yes, Darwin was easy. JC’s books also, when one realises that the books are – at least some – in a********l order.

      Size? Looks vaguely office-sized to me, but that is only a guess…

      1. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t Alec Guinness playing the role of the Augustus John painting as directed by David Lean. These things can confuse me.

        1. I read Seven Pillars of Wisdom in the form of a fine hardback edition bought in a used book store in some little town in the UK. It featured many illustrations, including a portrait of Lawrence.

          My friend looked at the portrait and asked, “why did they put a picture of Peter O’Toole in this book?”

          And Guinness played a convincing Faisal!

          One of my favorite movies. (Unfortunately, it’s too slow-moving for the rest of my family!)

          1. Ha! A nice story. That’s how I first encountered Augustus John and I think your friend’s response was also my first reaction to the portrait of O’Toole, er, I mean Lawrence. I probably found my copy of SPW in Pennsylvania, though.

  2. Greg – you are NOT a recycler. A recycler would at least attempt to throw something out. Quattro Pro???????

  3. Got.
    Years ago I had visited a university that had even more restrictive policies where you were not allowed to have shelves other than the few provided, & you could not attach any pictures to the ugly bare concrete walls. So faculty had to hang stuff by wires. This was all because it would clash with the goddam architects vision of their ‘space’.

    1. I’m an engineer. I have serious contempt for architects who try to impose their ‘vision’ on what the users can do. That is NOT providing a service, it is not creating a functional building, in short it is making a defective product. (And frequently at excessive cost). They are trying to indulge their egos, invariably at someone else’s expense (both metaphorically and literally).

      (I do have respect for architects who provide the maximum usable space for the most economical price.)


      1. Yeah. I remember too that the entire university was built by the same architect, so all buildings were like this. The floors were this pebbly concrete (very dirty – can’t be cleaned well), and lab carts with glassware made lots of obnoxious clatter when they were apologetically rolled by. Everyone hated it.

      2. I (also an engineer) like architecture that is both functional and also attractive. (I dislike the glass-box movement.)

        Cost is obviously important too.

        In all designed/engineered things, I value a good design aesthetic. It can be: Functional, economic, and beautiful, all in one.

        Just don’t give me any “isms”! 🙂

  4. ‘there are only two shelves in each, and they’re not allowed to bring in more shelves or files because “donors like it when all the offices look the same.”’

    That sounds like the usual bullshit that administrators (who have only ever read ten books in their lifetimes and think typing a formula into a cell in a spreadsheet is advanced mathematics/computer programming) like to impose on real professionals.

    I do admire Jerry’s office.


      1. You were probably one of the rare good ones. I know it’s a tough job, one I wouldn’t be any good at, but so many don’t seem to understand that they’re supposed to enable staff, not impede them.

        1. You’re no good unless you enable staff. You’re supposed to make their jobs easier, not harder, or you’re not doing your job imo.

  5. What a wonderful sight, a temple of learning. I love it. It only reinforces my desire to restart my biology degree so that I can comprehend all that lays between those covers, many of them already in my possession.

  6. OK, found Darwin. Not far from a box for the TI SR-51A. I had a TI-59. In those days the programmable-calculator holy wars were between TI and HP, algebraic vs Reverse Polish. (This was long before MS-DOS vs DR-DOS or Internet Explorer vs Netscape…)

    Truly, Dr Mayer is a squirrel. I envy that office!

    (I’m just clearing out my home office, with the aim of being able to see most of the carpet for the first time in a decade, and I’m discovering folders dating back to 1974 at the back of some shelves…)


  7. Darwin was easy. Of the books I only found Speciation but I cannot read the titles or authors of the books at îts sides.

  8. Weirdly, my cursor was over Darwin when I clicked to enlarge so he was instantly revealed! Onto part two, though I suspect that may be beyond my patience 🙂

    I would estimate the size of the office as snug bordering on undersized.

  9. Yep, Charly spotted!

    I bet it’s not the donors, it’s the administrators! A real office has to have lots of books, lots of stacks, even FiNo (First in Never out) stacks are fine.

  10. I’ve always found that many of the smartest people have the messiest work spaces. I wonder why that is.

      1. I’ve always suspected that I’m the world’s smartest person. If someone would just confirm my initial feeling with a good study, I can finally have validation.

        1. A general rule is that smart people are untidy, but usually know roughly where everything is.

    1. Oh, I have the answer to that written down over here. No wait, it’s not in that pile. I’ll try this one. No. Wait. I put it in that book over there — no, over on the other shelf. Wait, it’s in the stack under the table. Hold on. I’ll get back to you.

  11. I note the birthday coupon from Half Price Books on the computer screen. One of my favorite stores in the whole world!!

  12. I found James Randi but no Darwin. Did I missed something? 😉

    Is it a cetacean rib above the deer skull (in the back of the computer screen)?

  13. Got the Darwin.

    I mean, I really do. Bought him at one of the TAMs. He’s wearing spectacles and handcuffs.

    Oh, it’s Darwin all right — but sometimes he likes to pretend he’s James Randi.

  14. I think the orange book is a second copy of Why Evolution is True. Faith vs. Fact is in a different section. That’s my guess. The office might be 15′ x 20′.

  15. 10 ft x 9ft 6 in

    OFFICE DIMENSIONS [Assuming the ceiling tiles are standard 1′ x 1′ US size]

    There are two lighting strips of 1 x 8 tiles [each strip being two units of 4 tiles length]


    + 1.25 tile. To start of strip near the 3-legged Meyer
    + 8 tile. lighting strip
    + 0.8 tile. at the window
    = 10 feet

    [B] WIDTH
    +1.75 tile
    +1 tile. lighting strip
    +4 tile. strip to strip
    +1 tile. lighting strip
    +1.75 tile.
    = 9.5 feet

    1. Perhaps but you can’t download the smell, the texture, the heft… and old science books are the best.

  16. I found CD (too easy) but only Speciation by Jerry. Thank. You for letting us take a tour of your bookshelves. I really enjoy doing so. Also pleased to hear the hypothesis that messy offices are a sign of high intelligence! I once worked in an (open-plan) office with a clean desk policy. One could have any amount of crap on one’s desk during the day, but it had to be clear at night! I decided that if they wanted to pay me my hourly rate for 30 minutes putting stuff away in the afternoon and another 30 minutes getting it out in the morning, that it was there problem!

  17. I found the Darwin soft sculpture. I’ll let the others find the books and estimate the office size. I do want to scan the book titles, though…

  18. Weirdly enough, since it’s a slow morning I came back for a second look (without looking at the answer in the subsequent post) and the very first title my eye landed on was Speciation, with WEIT beside it.

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