Original Tri-Gas Analyzer and an Ancient Paradox

Posted by David Anderson on

Our Original Model 900131 Tri-Gas Analyzer Meets An Ancient Greek Paradox

Recently a Model 900131 Tri-Gas analyzer came in for its annual calibration and service from Superior Farms, one of our premier lamb producing customers.

It’s fitting that we encountered an ancient Greek paradox when working on Superior Farm’s Tri-Gas analyzer. I mean, who’s ready for some souvlaki, right?

Since we get analyzers in all of the time for calibration and service, we didn’t think too much about it. We would service and calibrate it and then send it back to the client like we always do.

Bridge Analyzers model 900131 is our best selling analyzer for meat, and in the case of Superior Farms, lamb

Thirteen Years of Taking Care of Superior Farms’ Tri-Gas Analyzer Led Us to a Deep Philosophical Discovery

But when we began service on this analyzer, we realized that this Superior Farms analyzer was the first Model 900131 Tri-Gas analyzer we ever sold. That’s to say, the original Model 900131 Tri-Gas analyzer which Superior Farms has been using since 2005. While we thought it was cool that our first Tri-Gas analyzer was still performing well for a great customer after thirteen years, we still didn’t think that much of it. We know that if you service and calibrate our analyzers annually, they can deliver top performance for a long time.

What got us thinking was a question. If the original Tri-Gas analyzer that Superior Farms has been using has been sent in annually for its recommended service upgrades and calibrations, does it still have any of its original parts? Maybe, maybe not. If it does, then we can easily say it’s the same analyzer. But what if it doesn’t contain any of its original parts? Is it still the same analyzer as the original?

What do all of these things have in common? Care over Time

When Things Get Philosophical...

Well, that’s when things got philosophical and we began thinking about the nature of identity, continuity, and, well, since it’s our business, analyzers.

In his biographical masterpiece, Plutarch’s Lives, the ancient Greek historian and writer Plutarch put forth a thought experiment that illuminated the conundrum in which we found ourselves concerning the original Tri-Gas analyzer we had received from Superior Farms.

Plutarch’s thought experiment focuses on the ship of the mythological hero Theseus. Simply put, Theseus’s paradox is as follows: If a ship has been so heavily repaired as to have all of its parts replaced, is it still the same ship it was? And, if not, at what point did it stop being the same ship?

Plutarch’s ‘Ship of Theseus’ paradox got us thinking about the identity of our original Model 900131 Tri-Gas Analyzer


...And Mythological

Plutarch puts it like this:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

The Ship of Theseus is a great example of the importance of constant maintenance and care over time


When we encountered the original Tri-Gas analyzer from Superior Farms that was the question we had. We didn’t know the answer when we first got it in for service, and we still don’t know the answer, but then again that’s why an ancient paradox is an ancient paradox, it doesn’t have an easy answer.

So, is our first Tri-Gas analyzer still the same Tri-Gas analyzer after dozens of service calls, upgrades, and calibrations all these years later?

We don’t know.

What we do know is that when you buy an analyzer from us you’re buying more than an analyzer, you’re buying the Bridge Analyzer customer experience. You’re buying the commitment we make to all of our customers through our core principle of Care over Time.

So, years from now, who knows if your analyzer will be the same analyzer you bought from us years earlier. Maybe it will be, maybe it won’t. Remember, this is an ancient paradox, but if the ship still sails at top speed, who really cares if it has any of its original parts.