The Elevator Paradox

In the 1950s, physicists George Gamow and Moritz Stern worked in the same seven-story building. Gamow, on the second floor, noticed that the first elevator to arrive at his office was most often going down. For Stern, on the sixth floor, the first elevator was most often going up. It was as if elves were manufacturing elevator cars in the middle of the building.

You can observe the same phenomenon in most tall buildings, and there are no elves involved. Do you see why it occurs?

Human Anagrams

In Literary Frivolities, Fancies, Follies and Frolics (1880), William Dobson tells of a curious spectacle presented to Stanislaus, the future king of Poland, on his return to Lissa:

There appeared on the stage thirteen dancers, dressed as youthful warriors; each held in his hand a shield, on which was engraved in characters of gold one of the thirteen letters which compose the two words DOMUS LESCINIA. They then commenced their dance, and so arranged it that at each turn their row of bucklers formed different anagrams. At the first pause they presented them in the natural order:

DOMUS LESCINIA [O (heir to the) House of Lescinius,]
At the second: ADES INCOLUMIS [Thou art present with us still unimpaired–]
At the third: OMNIS ES LUCIDA [Thou art all that is wonderful.]
At the fourth: MANE SIDUS LOCI [Stay with us, O sun of our land!]
At the fifth: SIS COLUMNA DEI [Thou art one of God’s supporters—]
At the last: I, SCANDE SOLIUM. [Come, ascend thy regal throne.]

“This last was the more beautiful,” writes Robert Moritz, “since it proved a true prophecy.”


There is a secret chamber at the old Cumberland seat of the ancient family of Senhouse. To this day its position is known only by the heir-at-law and the family solicitor. This room at Nether Hall is said to have no window, and has hitherto baffled every attempt of those not in the secret to discover its whereabouts.

Remarkable as this may seem in these prosaic days, it has been confirmed by the present representative of the family, who, in a communication to us upon the subject, writes as follows: ‘It may be romantic, but still it is true that the secret has survived frequent searches of visitors. There is no one alive who has been in it, that I am aware, except myself.’

— Allan Fea, Secret Chambers and Hiding-Places, 1908