Nobel laureates vs. VCR programming

April 15, 1992|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Technodolts of the world, unite! Spy magazine's running feature "Meet the Nobelists" this issue asks the laureates the simple yet profoundly revealing question: "Can you program your VCR?" So, for all of you with machines pathetically, perpetually flashing 12:00, take heart -- the VCR-minus mindset knows no bounds:

* Paul A. Samuelson, 1970 Nobel Prize in economics: "You happen to be talking to an idiot who literally receives instructions from 2 1/2 -year-old grandchildren . . . on taping things. Now, the 2 1/2 -year-old among the grandchildren cannot program the VCR so that next Thursday it will know to record, but they can do most of the things which I still am not very good at -- I've tried."

* Richard E. Taylor, 1990 Nobel Prize in physics: "Yes, [but] I don't always win. Sometimes the clock's five minutes wrong and I miss the beginning of the program or something, but I don't regard it as any sort of infernal beast I can't handle."

* Leon M. Lederman, 1988 Nobel Prize in physics: "No, but my wife does. And since she does, I didn't have to learn. . . . She's good at it -- she just looked at the instructions and figured it out. At one point, I think I even made a useful suggestion -- maybe it was, 'Plug it into the wall,' or something like that -- and then it worked. It doesn't always work -- once, she ran out of tape."

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