Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Woof Woof



It’s very nice to discover humor in a paper that I thought I knew all too well. Above is a a Feynman diagram taken from said paper. Although not as cute as a penguin, it might compete with other dog renditions in popular culture.

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\vec v_A, \vec v_B; v_{AB}?


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Blackboard humor

To celebrate the near end of the quarter I thought I would publish a photo of a blackboard near my office captured a few days ago.


The bottom equation proves that it comes from a bona fide physics department blackboard, although to me it seems that there might be a factor of i missing . Well, maybe it can be counted as circumstantial evidence for coming from a blackboard in a physics department.

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Fortune cookies

Let us say that I have been getting weird fortune cookies lately. It is my belief that whoever makes them is getting more inventive with what they dare put into such messages. Apart from fortunes of the type

You will travel far in the near future

I’ve been getting professional help from these cookies. For example, a couple of weeks ago I got one that went like this:

It is better to be approximately right than certainly wrong

Which is some of the best advice for physics I have ever heard. I’ve had other such that seem to resonate with my profession. Today’s was particularly funny:

You could prosper in the field of wacky inventions

If a colleague would tell me that I would be willing to bet that he thinks I am a crackpot. Oh well. Share your own.

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There are entire libraries of coffee table conversations about the multiverse. A lot of them explore the what if and are usually fun over a couple of drinks. When its done professionally however… On second thought I think I’ll not go there this time around.

There is an online comic that is devoted entirely to the bizarre occurrences of the multiverse: it is aptly called “Scenes of a multiverse“. I recommend it highly. Usually you can expect intelligent Hamsters and evil geniuses running amok.  The one today is particularly apt if you’re up to snuff on the inner debates of academic multiverses: that it is a dream of something (aka, the simulated universe, aka The Matrix) and that there is no testable prediction, but postdictions aplenty. Or at least one.

If you’re in the mood for it, you might want to read some of the books by Michael Moorcock. They give you a different view of the multiverse.

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Predictions of the future

I remember the promises of the future: we would all have our personal jets. Cars would have glass domes. We would all have robots doing everything for us and the computers would have conversations with us. Moreover we would all be eating like astronauts: pills for breakfast lunch and dinner, with the occasional toothpaste tube full of nourishment. I also remember that all children would be born from big water tanks, they would be immune to all diseases and there would be a pill to cure cancer. We would also teleport from one place to another. We should have conquered the other planets in the solar system by 2010. Space travel would be commonplace and safe. And the year 2k bug would be the end of the world.

Here’s something to celebrate all those failed predictions:

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Not exactly physics

Professional banter is as old as professions. This is a dramatization of my idle chatter on Saturday, when I bumped into someone that does condensed matter physics for a living. Bear in mind that this was a fun conversation and we were laughing all around.

Other person: I heard you do physics.

Me: yes.

Other person: What kind of physics?

Me: I work on high energy theory, more precisely string theory and such.

Other person: Ha ha. That’s not considered to be `physics’ in my community.

Me: I’m also interested in quantum computing …

Other person: There is still hope for you.

Well, seeing how many times I’ve heard the phrase “that’s not physics” uttered in different contexts when talking about different sub-communities of physicists as relating to each other I can happily say that I don’t do physics, even  though I do.

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A little bit of fun

Did you ever wonder if grad school is just like kindergarden?

Or when is it ok to take a holiday break?

Of course, you could be completely unaware of the news.

I personally want to join the tautology club.

And for some reason, perhaps because I’m a particle theorist, the following description of snow tracking really cracks me up.

Finally, you should check this wedding cake picture as well. It uses a Standard Model of decoration.


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As I contemplate a set of bubble sheets and a midterm coming up for my class,   I have to think that all those multiple choice tests that I took in my life ended producing a valuable skill. They taught me how to take the tests so that when I design them I can solve them and fix the errors that crop up. I can now make them with great confidence. After all that training, I am a professional.


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Scientific papers have through the years introduced new terms that become words of everyday language. Energy being one of them. It used to be called vis viva by Leibnitz. the modern usage was introduced in 1807. The word comes from greek, and it is usually the case thaht greek and latin roots are used to indicate new concepts.

The name photon come from 1926, from a paper by Gilbert Lewis. Before that they were called light quanta. Lewis theory was discredited but the name stuck. Similarly, quarks were named so by Gellman.

More recently, words like embiggen (to make bigger) appeared for the first time in an episode of the Simpsons making fun of the illiteracy of the people in Springfield.

This didn’t stop the word from becoming part of the arxiv. So now it is a perfectly cromulent word.

More recently, the word emblackening has entered the physics vocabulary. Here is the first reference that seems to discuss it.

The `emblackening’ factor is a function that takes a given metric without a black hole horizon, and changes it to another function that does have a black hole horizon, therefore emblackening the metric. Gee whiz. Why couldn’t they just call it the blackening factor? Or the time warp function?

That one would be fun. Let’s do the time warp agaaaaaain!

Of course, I was complaining about the mangling of the English language and improper use of prefixes. Probably this is due to the many instances where I have heard English being mangled by my English professors when I was a kid in Latin America and the struggles I had to make my English writing acceptable. I guess I have to adapt to the changing of the language. So wth, I have to accept the new stuff, and rofl my way into using the new modes of communication. Lol.

You can also read a discussion on ‘emblackening” here. This is from the National Novel Writing month. Where people complain that it does not exist, while empurple does. It turns out that you can empurple your text (this is to make a piece of text very ornate by use of flowery language), or someone can empurple you by making you very angry. Sadly, emredding and emgreening is out of the question.

So if you’re stuck out of finding fancy new words, just consider reading a scientific paper. You might be surprised at the whole new levels of richness that your vocabulary can aspire to.

My fingers are itching to use ridiculon as nomenclature for a particle whose properties would be completely ridiculous and incompatible with experiments. There are plenty of models that are populated by ridiculons.

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