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glor one

Most of the problems Glor encounters come as a result of a Dewar nitrogen freezer that he carries around in a duffel bag to help transport tissue samples from the Caribbean back to his lab in the United States. One of the stories he shared with our 'post seminar group' involved an airline official on his flight back from Cuba who came across the Dewar and wanted to know what was inside. Glor had the official dump the contents out into his hands to prove their innocence, and although he passed that particular test the official wanted to know why he was carrying around such a large container if he only had a few small vials inside - acting convinced that there must be something else hidden inside.

Glor told him there wasn't anything else inside - just a vacuum - which immediately raised the suspicions of the official. What's inside the vacuum? However, an explanation of how a vacuum, by definition, can't have anything inside wasn't enough to persuade him, as he claimed that it was impossible for there to be nothing inside. Realizing that the manufacturer's sticker was still stuck to the freezer, Glor suggested the airline employee call their number to get a second opinion, but when they dialed the number he was soon experiencing a sense of déjà vu -- Yes, but what's inside the vacuum ... No, that's impossible!. It's likely that the person on the other end of the line had some experience dealing with situations of that type in the past, as it only took a few minutes before Glor was finally left in peace - with the Dewar stored safely on the plane.

One of the graduate students joked about turning that into a test question for the introductory classes she teaches, if only to provide some extra stress and second-guessing among her students. If an instructor asked you to describe what was in a vacuum what would you say?