St. Paul, MN
Officials at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cites campus, are reporting that three scientists have died following a rapid quench of the university's 800 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer. Sources indicate that at approximately 7:30 pm Wednesday evening, technician Adam Wilkinson and graduate students Aaron Ferguson and Donna Frish were performing a probe changeover when the instrument unexpectedly quenched, releasing all 240 liters of liquid cryogen.
Researchers in adjacent laboratories reported hearing high-pitched voices from the instrumentation lab. Post-doctoral researcher Shane Patel stated his confusion, representative of all those present in the building at the time of the incident.
"Those assholes [sic] in James' lab down the hallway have been playing this obnoxious Christmas carol album non-stop since literally the day after Thanksgiving. Alvin and the Chipmunks, or something like that."
"Anyway, I heard some muffled squealing voices coming from down the hallway, and just assumed it was those nobs playing that shit-awful album again."
Students and faculty alike are reeling in the wake of the deaths. A preliminary investigation by campus officials has indicated that a faulty quench vent tube is to blame for the tragedy. David Roberts, head of campus EH&S, issued a statement warning of the dangers associated with liquid helium.
"True, helium is non-toxic, but liquid cryogen expands when it boils off and can easily displace all the oxygen within a given room. If occupants are unable to evacuate quickly, rapid asphyxiation can occur. Rapid, squeaky, hilariously tragic asphyxiation."
Patel added, "Well, at least those poor bastards don't have to suffer through hearing that terrible album again."