The Frontal Cortex


It sounds like one of those 1950’s psychological experiments that scientific ethics boards no longer allow: Nicholas White was trapped in an elevator in New York City’s McGraw-Hill building for forty-one hours. Just thinking about such an ordeal gives me shivers of claustrophobic anxiety. Forty-one hours! In a suspended box!

Thankfully, security cameras caught the whole thing on tape:

And then read the article, which is fascinating throughout.


  1. #1 Jillian
    April 24, 2008

    Thanks for this post! I clicked on the link and read the whole article–got sucked right in (and consequently did not get my work done) : ). I never knew elevators could be so interesting.

    There is a lot of the science of human behavior involved in the design of an elevator. I think it’s especially interesting that the designers take peoples’ fear into account (for example, by putting in buttons that don’t do anything, but make people feel less powerless). It is a little silly, but I can see why being in a buttonless elevator would be extra-frightening. And I’m not even scared of small spaces.

  2. #2 Pawlie Kokonuts
    April 24, 2008

    Having read the article first, before the Internet video sensation of the security-camera footage, I just can’t bring myself, yet, to watch it. It is not a happy ending, where Mr. White is today. I worked briefly for McGraw-Hill in the 1980s, downtown, but occasionally went to the Sixth Avenue HQ. To think, it could’ve been me.

  3. #3 Jarret
    April 26, 2008

    It’d be interesting to see if he still stuck to his normal sleeping pattern…

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