Various miscellaneous oddments
Danger! Don't look at this if you're not
a physicist, and it probably won't even be funny to most physicists.
Here is a random selection of quotes from lecturers (Part II),
which we found amusing at the time, or are amusing taken out of
context. More submissions very welcome, and thanks to those who have
already added to this list.
Dr Eugene Terentjev (Theoretical Physics, TP1)
- ``...this is just O level contour integration.''
- ``I'm not going to do any of the questions because they're all
- ``And so we get the Langevin equation, which is saying that the
acceleration is equal to something which I don't know...''
- ``... this is OK, because when I take something which I don't know and I
multiply it by m, I still don't know what it is.''
- ``... the [...] function, which does what it says on the tin''
- ``As always in theoretical physics, our aim is to end up with scalars:
when I divide apples by oranges, I don't know what to compare it with, but
when I get 10000, I know it's big!''
- ``You can take any alternative model and, as long as it isn't physically
contradictory, you get the same result.''
- ``You will be pleased to know that the tripos questions in this year's
paper won't be the same as last year's.''
- ``Just enjoy yourselves and try to learn something. If you can. Can enjoy
yourselves, I mean. Oh boy!''
- ``In theoretical physics you don't solve equations - you know what the
answer is before you start and then argue why this equation should be the
one to solve.''
- After many particularly complicated pages of algebra: ``... and
now for the final straw in this lecture...''
Dr Guna Rajagopal (Theoretical Physics, TP2)
- ``It makes life easy... well mathematical life anyway.''
- ``It's a pity we don't teach [elliptical cylindrical coordinates] at
school... I mean at university.''
- ``This could be a potato.''
- ``If they're entangled, it's difficult to tell which guy is which
- ``Fermions completely hate each others' guts.''
- ``Evaluating Gaussian integrals is good for you.''
or ``Do this calculation once in your life - it's good for you!''
- ``This is the real world. I'm going to tell you the facts of life.''
- ``The only time your body's in equilibrium is when you're dead... and
everyone approaches the equilibrium state.''
- ``You learnt this in primary school.''
- ``In the exam, we don't want to find out what you don't
know... that's easy to do.''
- (``You're theoretical physicists, so you can do anything.'')
- (``Most of the problems have answers.'')
- (``This is the grind you have to do to get the final glorious
Prof. Malcolm Longair (Concepts in Physics)
- ``Lemmings - all they do is run around a logistic map... well, I
- ``The Tycho model of the solar system ... was a sort of Lib Dem model.''
- ``The point is that 6[pi] is a number of the order... <pause>... small!''
- ``If you don't find this beautiful, then you haven't got a soul.''
Dr Tom White (Nuclear Physics)
Halfway through a lecture on nuclear bombs: ``I have a
demonstration... but we'll leave it to the end because I can't really
carry on after it, as you will see.''
Dr Steve Julian (Thermal & Statistical Physics)
- ``Now I don't think that Boltzmann committed suicide solely because of
this, but if you have depressive tendencies, then you might well find
yourself drawn towards statistical mechanics.''
Now we move on to a small selection of Part III quotes.
Dr Bill Allison (Solid State Physics)
About a poster: "Did you understand it? Well, neither do I. Load
Dr Nick Manton (Quantum Field Theory)
- ``Renormalisation is a technical device.''
- ``An infinite constant... but we can deal with that... somehow...''
- ``This just means A dot dot A dot.''
- ``It's convenient to actually _solve_ this.''
Prof Sir Martin Rees
- ``1ms is quite a long time after the Big Bang.''
- And in the same lecture: ``10^1600 years is quite a short time,
- ``I'm currently doing the evolution of a silver star. Next
time, I'll do a wooden star.''
Dr David Mackay (Information Theory)
- ``A year is roughly 1000 days, isn't it?''
- ``Do we have an unhappy circle?''
Dr Carlo Ewerz (Gauge Field Theory)
- ``We have a relativistic wave equation which describes a wave
and is relativistic.''
Other quotes pages
Want more of this sort of stuff? Try:
I crusade against mispronunciation of `kilometre'; it's difficult to
write down but it should be kilo-meetr not kil-OMeterr, the latter of
which would be a device for counting kils. Think about how
`centimetre' and `kilogram' are pronounced, and remember for
`micrometer'/`micrometre' the two pronunciations have different meanings.
And, on scientific English, misuse of `finite' is extremely confusing.
It should mean `not infinite' rather than `non-zero'; zero is a
finite number. I propose the use of `finitessimal' to fill the gap as
a word to describe a larger-than-infinitessimal number.
Thirdly, please don't muddle ``lose'' and ``loose''. ``Lose''
means misplace, ``loose'' means set free.
Sorry. Others to subject you to will follow.
This page was created and is maintained by Edwin Carter. Email me! email@example.com
Last updated 26-4-00.