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Lecturer Quotes



Prof. Colin Humphreys (Electrons and Photons in Solids)

The first thing that Prof. Humphreys drew on the board was a graph with the axes "cost of chips" and "time"; with two lines, approximately y = x and y = n-x, labelled "potato" and "silicon" respectively. I trust this sets the scene.

+ "And so we can get millions of pounds to buy an electron microscope, but the Department still can't afford decent pens."

+ "You'll learn an awful lot of useless information in this course."

"[Diamond] sucks all the heat in your body out through your finger."

"All of this useful gangster knowledge you're learning in this course..."

+ student: "Well, we'll be OK as long as the digressions come up on the exam"

"So, if you wanted to work out the number of people in this lecture theatre, instead of counting them, you could work out the density of seats in here, multiply that by the probability a seat would be occupied, and integrate it from here to the other wall." (I feel I should point out that there are about 10 people doing this course)

A comment from my notes: "Only in quantum theory would you have a variable as the effective mass of something which isn't there."

"At the end of the New York marathon you'll find a lot of people in the exhaustion region"
(I feel this has to be recorded. It isn't very funny unless you understand at least some semiconductor physics, but nyerr it's my page so there)

"These biologists often do things which aren't very useful"

"Some times the electron will hit a tree and bounce back again."

"The finish is in the direction, or maybe the antidirection, of..."

"You can sketch this in a handwaving way, but still quite realistically..."

"This is actually really simple, it just looks complicated because of all the subscripts"
This sounds rather reminiscent of [Doctor Leader]: "If you're confused by all the C_A_i_n [C sub (A sub (i sub n))] and so on, then remember: all we're doing is just... nothing. But it's a fiddly nothing. "

"Most people make the mistake of forgetting to label the axes on their graphs. I make the mistake of not drawing the graph"

"It's very rare to get an intellectual in a cabinet"

"If any of you have showers, you may be familiar with this"

Dr. Bill Clegg (Deformation Kinetics)

"There's quite a lot of assumptions which have quietly schmoozed in here"

"For some reason, the stress in this whole structure has gone walkabout, which is cause for concern"

[commenting on a plot of relative intensities of materials in the Earth's crust whilst discussing why some materials aren't used]: "I've also got a plot for intensities in the Sun, but that's probably not entirely relevant right now..."

"If Ice had this level of diffusivity glaciers would have run off into the sea by now."

"What is clearly needed is fibre-reinforced icebergs or similar."

Dr. Bartek Glowacki (Magnetic & Superconducting Materials)

Perhaps the most notable thing about Dr. Glowacki is that he sounds almost exactly like whoever did the voiceovers for Provost Zahkarov in AlphaCentauri. I know this because of the number of times he said "substructure".
(As in "The substructure of the universe regresses infinitely towards smaller and smaller components. Behind atoms we find electrons, and behind electrons quarks. Each layer unraveled reveals new secrets, but also new mysteries."? I'm a) mildly impressed I could remember most of that without Google, and b) disturbed that Zahkarov thinks electrons contain quarks. --CH)
Our QM lecturer is hinting there might be sub-electrons. I don't know if there is actually anything to it though.--King DJ

"I actually achieved 20K doing this myself. Well, not myself, the machine..."

+ "Lots of people have unorthodox ideas. The real trick here is to be both unorthodox and right."

[misheard by SF]:"Built using ninja-printing" (inkjet printing)

"It's one centimetre long, so it's like an infinitely long slab"

"As always in physics, we have the first approximation, the hydrogen atom, then the second approximation, then we give up."

"You can get this up to about 45Tesla, if it is cooled by about 5 Fire Brigades"

"This is very close to room temperature, about 300 Celsius" (It's possible he meant 300 Kelvin.)

Prof. Lindsay Greer (Glasses and Nanomaterials, Thermal Analysis)

+ "Essentially, i.e. not actually."

"Right. Yes. Hmmmm. Harumph." (quoted because he enunciated all of this clearly and at the class...)

"The way into the glass that we know and love is..."

"We'd survive this quite well, if it weren't for the fact that we have these things called bones. De-boned, we'd probably do quite well."

[Overhead title]"X-ray diffractometer trace from a ginger snap biscuit"

"I think in a natural system you don't get dropped in liquid nitrogen."

"Well, we could do that. We don't have the nucleation proteins and there might be a problem with some tissues, but details details."

"I call this the confusion principle - if you put enough atoms of different sizes in it doesn't know what to crystallise into."

"This is true for toothpaste as well, although obviously if it felt like sandpaper you'd be less inclined to use it."

"This might have been me in a parallel universe that set this question."

"The thermal conductivity of frogs not being notably high, you'd have to put in a term to include that."

Dr. Kevin Knowles (Surface Engineering)

"Do you really want to be drinking with something impinging with the free surface?"

(Discussing ways to measure surface area in ceramics) "That was a Part III project that nobody took up. The good side to that is that I still have the pots."

"...Which are from Taiwan, where everything is crystalline."

Award for sheer incogruity:
"Apparently, the market for diamond-like coatings on sunglasses isn't as large as NASA would have us believe"

Dr. Vasant Kumar (Extraction and Recycling)

"Sulphur is an impurity almost most of the time."

"If steel was a country it would have the sixth largest economy in the world."

Dr. Rob Wallach (Joining)

+ "If you're going to join wood I wouldn't recommend a welding torch."

student1: "Why do we have two sheets?"
-student2: "Because joining one sheet together isn't very hard."

"I'm sure you all remember primary bonds - ionic, metallic, covalent - if you don't the door is over there, or the window is there if you prefer to jump."

"You bounce your light around the production area, making cars."
[If anybody can /GuessTheContext I will be impressed]

"Wool is capitalised in this sentence because I am referring to a scientist, not a material."

"If you're unskilled, you light the fuse and get blown off the ladder, and if you're semiskilled, you come down the ladder first."

"All their careful work has gone, in inverted commas."

"If you think of a TTT diagram, which you shouldn't be thinking of, so I'll scrap that."

student: "When Britain ruled the waves I thought we riveted them."

"If you look at steels they do have these boring metal additions in them."

"Welding specifications we're not going to say anything about because they're boring. [pause] But important."

"Local anode. Large Cathode. Game Over."

Dr. James Elliot (Powder Technology)

"The equations listed on your overhead below"

Dr. David Scott (Powder Technology)

"If you look at the people in this room, not many are perfect spheres."

[commenting on the author of a textbook]"He's the only Chemical Engineer I know who doesn't wear socks."

"He tipped 300,000 coloured ping-pong balls down a ski-jump ramp to get this data."

"We have to think of you during this course...*puts up OHP of guinea pig*"

"Throughout these lectures there's a variable number of m's in the word "cumulative"

"Half the total particle sizes are less than the mean and half the total particle sizes are smaller."

"There you are, you've spent your time at Cambridge and now you know how to make the perfect sandcastle."

[title of published research paper put up on OHP] "Hydrodynamic behaviour of a jet spouted bed of shrimp"

Dr. Neil Mathur (Electronic Ceramics)

(misheard by SF) "I'll just write the equation for cleaning the board."

(in response to a student question) "Now you're beginning to get a feel for how arbitrary this whole thing is"

"If you look in the literature you'll sometimes see values higher than [given maximum] but they're due to errors in measurement which are well known. Well, they're well-known to some people, but not the authors of papers claiming world record polarisations."

"I don't see how [the University] can say that [all degrees] are equivalent It's like half-blues sports - why not have a half-degree for the arts?"

Dr. Paul Bristowe (Materials Modelling)

"You can arrange supervisions as you desire by arrangement."

Prof. Alan Windle (Polymer Systems and Carbon-based nanomaterials)

"I'm just back from Texas, so if I go to sleep in the lecture do let me know"

[describing a textbook]"I don't know what it costs but it looks German and a bit expensive."

"This is a figment of our imagination, or a physicist's model."

"It's basically the way of making a curve the shape of the one in the red box and giving important names to the constants."

"If you had calibrated fists you could get a time law out for the strength."

"And there are semi-infinite racetracks for the electrons."

"Nano. This unbelievable word which politicians can both spell and prononuce."

"WARNING: I'm talking too much."

"It has become something of a virility symbol in the nano game to come up with new ways of explaining how small a nanometre is."

"There's a slight correlation between Nobel Prize and absence of hair in this photograph."

"The amazing thing about this is that it actually works."

"So that we can start being more scientific than taking pictures of jelly..."

"Particularly if it's made of atoms, which is liable to happen."

[commenting on a slide he's just put up]
"Mmm. I think phagocytose means eat."

"It's basically a nanotube executive toy."

Prof Mark Blamire (Device Materials and Nanotechnology)

"This course has changed names several times. It now has the word nanotechnology in it to make it seem relevant."

[In the second lecture of a lent term fourth-year materials science course]:
"This lecture is about materials."

"The raw material for silicon is relatively widely available."

"Copper metallisation was only really made possible by advances in chemical-mechanical planarisation, which to you means polishing."

"All you do by diffusing it is to make it more diffuse."

"This is very slow pace, Swedish-type MEMS."
[MEMS stands for Micro Electro Mechanical Systems. This is not necessary to know in order to note that Prof. Blamire is being slightly bizarre here]

"As you reduce the line width the wires get less wide."

"Rather than making these one by one, your pour a load of atoms out of a bucket and they magically turn into whatever you want. Of course, this already happens, and it's called 'Chemistry'."

"In all the time I've had this as a supervision question no-one has got it right, which I'm rather proud of."

Dr. Alison Twitchett (Electron Microscopy and Analysis)

"Lots of people think that this is a black art but often it does come down to skill."

"We have conduction of the cold along the sample."

"I would annotate this slide but I think you can interpret smiley faces for yourself."

Random Industrial Speakers

"If you think that sounds brutal, well, I've seen it done and I can assure you it's every bit as brutal as it sounds."

"I don't think there's any bio-resorbable formula 1 cars or wind turbines out there."


Friends Quotes (yes, I still have some left)

Eni: *notes to self: USA not a deck of cards*

Joo: "There's so many books on paper in there..."
(she meant about paper)

Michelle: "Everything was almost back on track until I got a cold which knocked me out of lectures for a week and wrote off my car."

Senji: In space, no-one can reach the lightswitch.

Stuart [examining table]: "Hmm, I appear to be the only one who has cutlery"
-Becci: "Yes, I wasn't sure what we were eating, so I put it out."
-Dad: "And unlike the rest of us you haven't eaten yours yet."
Y'know, my parents would think I was really weird if I said anything like that. --CH

(on#curs)
Stuart: I think SINNER sounds more like an NGO to me. Possibly a terrorist group.
-Senji: Worse: a QUANGO

NickTaylor: Oh, you roll fractional dice rather than rounding them up, don't you?

Stuart: For the last time, demons are not the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Entirely Random Quotes

Matthew Furtek: "So is Bunkley is worth being afraid of? Redskin fans are acting like he’s going to be blowing up our lines."
-TomC?: "Apparently he could bench press the entire Redskin line, but that’s only if they lie down and allow themselves to be stacked on one another, which isn’t a conventional pass-blocking scheme."

Floyd Reese: "This guy physically is such a combination of arms and legs."

FOX Sports: “Danieal Manning is a tremendous athlete with natural feet and explosiveness.”
(The rejoinder on this one was "well, gotta pick him then. Don't want to be stuck choosing between the guys with synthetic feet")

Peter Alliss: "Is he left-handed, do you know?"
-Mark James: "He might be amphibious"

Random training video narrator: "You can circumvent the entire world five times in the blink of an eye."

Wikipedia: "Battles are most often fought during wars."

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Last edited September 13, 2006 9:17 am (viewing revision 32, which is the newest) (diff)
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