Hormeisis Jokes

I have often said that my physics degrees are primarily used to make more esoteric dumb jokes and puns, especially if I can find a way to work math in to them. As a coworker will be going to a new job soon, I want to immortalize two connected stories that show why I’ll miss him. This is also another moment of satori in my life. To help make sense of the joke, all you need to know is that Hormeisis Theory is borrowed from chemical exposures, which is the idea that a little bit of poison strengthens you. This turned into the idea a low level of radiation damage prompts your body’s cellular self-repair systems to action. 

[SCENE – COWORKER 1 and Phil are working at the radiation detection instrument calibration range. The large Cs-137 check sources have been brought out of storage and the radiation area barrier tape has been put up. Phil is setting up ion chambers at set distances on the range.]

COWORKER 1: Are you finished setting up?
Phil: Almost. You can go ahead and get the smaller source out.
COWORKER 1: Alright! Time to get my hormeisis for the day.
Phil: [without missing a beat, without so much as a hesitation for thought, a perfect moment of satori] Your mom’s a hormeisis.
COWORKER 1: [drops the tongs before even opening the source pig, slumps against the range table] You yermom’d me!
Phil: Oh my god. I’m sorry.
COWORKER 1: Do you have any idea how many years it’s been since I’ve been yermom’d? That was amazing.

After that, we had a special bond as he had finally figured out I was a strange garbage person he could relate to. That I was, in fact, weirder than him and could enrich his life with things. Like getting the Picard Song stuck in his head.

A few years of good times pass.

[SCENE – Seated at a table during the departmental holiday dinner, COWORKER 1 and Phil are sharing stories while enjoying refreshing adult beverages. COWORKER 2 enters and takes a seat.]

COWORKER 1: Do you remember when you yermom’d me?
Phil: Of course I do!
COWORKER 2: [incredulous] You yermom’d COWORKER 1? How?
Phil: I said his mom was a hormeisis.
[COWORKER 2 has a spittake. COWORKER 1 recounts the previous scene to him.]
COWORKER 2: Well, you know what means right, COWORKER 1?
COWORKER 2: It means a little bit of your mom is good for everyone.
COWORKER 1: [gently rests forehead on the table] Oh god it got worse. How did it get worse?
[Phil and COWORKER 2 make a toast to COWORKER 1’s mom.]
COWORKER 1: Howwwwwwww???


I’m gonna miss him. He’s the only person in the whole department who can properly Slav Squat. All the rest of us have Western Spy Squat. Oh, and he’s gonna be a kickass health physicist.