posted by Nastassia Lopez
This May, Dave’s wish for a centrifuge came true when Unilever donated their old Sorvall RC2-B to the school’s Tech department. The ‘fuge has a permanent home in Dave’s lair, and though it’s built like a bomb shelter, and not the most elegant instrument, this big guy is refrigerated and can do up to 48,000 g’s at 20,000 rpm on a good day. It also continues to serve the department very well, despite all of the maniacal conditions Dave has made it endure. A centrifuge can be a damningly dangerous thing but Dave credits his ‘fuge’s resiliance (and mercy) to one man—Taylor W. Hubble—whose business card came with the machine.
Taylor was this ‘fuge’s service rep—but for us, he is more than that: he’s become our saving grace; the Sorvall Guardian Angel. Dave won’t let anyone mess with Hubble’s card lest it mess with the karma/feng shui of the whole machine. So last week, on a whim, Dave and I decided to call the service number on Taylor’s card. It had turned into a hotline.
We were not to be defeated. We called DuPont directly. While on hold, Dave and I created a fantasy life for Taylor W. Hubble—retired and living on a river in Florida with his wife and a personal centrifuge in his basement. And then the voice on the other side of the phone came: “This is Taylor Hubble.” Holy Crap! He existed! And he still worked for DuPont! We were speechless.
I told Taylor that we were honored to speak to him, and explained the venerable role he played with our centrifuge (I’m certain he thought we’d been playing with too many chemicals at this point; especially when I mentioned that Dave wouldn’t let anyone remove his card so as not to upset the machine’s balance). I scheduled an interview with him the following week, which Nils and I conducted via speaker phone (Dave had just left for Italy).
The Call with Taylor W. Hubble
The whole purpose of the Taylor Hubble call was to get some background information on the centrifuge: to find out where it had been, what it was used for, if he did any major services on it, etc. (in addition to just meeting the man himself). Unfortunately Taylor didn’t have any of the original service history on our centrifuge because the instrument itself is obsolete. Taylor could only remember installing a device on the lid so that one cannot open it while it is spinning (which comes in handy when spinning at such high rpm).
Then things got even weirder for Taylor when Nils asked him for a recent photo. After a long silence he said that he had none and that he looked pretty much the same as the old photo on his card except with less hair and more freckles on his head. He also warned us several times that he could not do any service on the machine. We assured him several times that it was truly not the reason we were calling. He didn’t sound convinced.
We thanked him on behalf of Dave for the metaphysical presence he had on the machine, and let him know that the next time he’s in New York City he could spin some liquids for old times sake, and do a skoal shot.
Thanks, Taylor W. Hubble!