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Dr. S. Withington (Mathematics and Theoretical Physics)
~[describing a mathematics textbook] "It's available in all shops in Cambridge."
"It's the nature of mathematicians that they would want to do this even though it may well have no practical use whatsoever."
"Just import expressions for grid and dav, then."
"It can be shown simply...but it's very tedious, so I'm not doing it."
"If we go back to Maxwell's equations, which I probably can't find in the dark."
"This, you may think, is entirely arbitrary and meaningless and has no use whatsoever. Anyway, let's carry on..."
Tautology award: "We could put other constants in here, as long as they're constant"
"Because this is a square cube"
"I'm not going to go into a great amount of detail here. I'm not going to go into any detail at all, actually."
"We're going round in circles here, but nevertheless you can see that all roads lead to Rome."
Dr. N.C. Greenham (Oscillations, Waves and Optics)
"Those of you doing 1B Maths will presumably learn something"
"That term disappears, which is convenient, because it's wrong anyway, but at least when I differentiate it goes away."
"We think by Newton's Third Law...no, the other one, erm, yeah, Newton's Third Law."
("We've also had "No, this is by Newton's second law, not his third, isn't it?". I have now stopped quoting Dr. Greenham's ongoing battle with Newton's laws and/or counting to three, but it's still going on..)
"It turns out, and by now you'll have realised that "it turns out" is my shorthand for "I'm not going to attempt to prove this.""
"I'm not going to do the case n = 3, because I haven't got three arms."
Dr. C.J.B Ford (Electromagnetism)
"If you don't believe me, go and climb a hill and find out"
"E is a conservative field. I don't know if we have any labour fields."
"This is our first Maxwell equation, which is why I'm going to call it M2"
M2 is somewhat simpler than M1 and doesn't need the divergence theorem. However...
"It sounds a little bit mathematical, but it's very useful"
"As a last resort, do the maths."
"I'm just making your life harder by forcing you to think about something on a Saturday morning."
"Some of you may have thought I would be talking about philosophy this morning but actually I said dielectrics."
"If we had to make a waveguide from two infinite planes it would be quite big."
Dr. R. Wallach (Metals and Alloys)
Precision... "After about an infinite number of passes, it looks like this."
~"I can't speak, as usual"
"If the temperature gradient was like my pen at the moment..."
[describes method of producing single-crystal turbine blades] "...which produces far better creep performance, making the engines able to run hotter and thus more efficient." -student: "Could you turn the microphone back on, it's stopped." -Wallach: "Erm, no. It's probably broken. Pah! Modern technology..."
"If we differentiate this, we get...we get a new pen, so that I can write it down."
"...because the dislocations are pinned and I forgot to make the tea. This leads me on to the shape memory effect."
"Anyone bring a teabag? No? Gah, you guys don't come prepared for anything!"
Prof. R.D.E. Saunders (Experimental Methods)
"They've got hideous stuff like transistors in, which you don't need to know about. All you need to know is: you can buy an Operational Amplifier."
~"This is the useful diagram. Not that one over there, ignore it. This one."
"You probably don't remember this; in fact you may well find anything with such a construct in hideous and want to blot it out of your mind."
"After a lot of algebra - a page of fair misery, in fact..."
"This is not how you do it. Life is better than that."
"What you have to remember about Nature is that it is mostly read by biologists." -[laughter] -"No, not like that. Some of my best friends are biologists..."
"If you find this interesting then you're completely pedantic."
"If you're down to worrying about this you've got it all wrong anyway."
Dr. S. Mahajan (Classical Thermodynamics) Erm, yes. These lectures really are becoming light entertainment now. I'm not sure if we've actually learned any thermodynamics yet, but it's fun.
"The reason I put that up is that I'm not going to do any of it."
"The pi comes from integrating over surface areas. The 60? The 60's a long story..."
"Everything is roughly h bar"
"Fluorescent lights are a bit like the sun."
Requiem [of Dr. Mahajan]: "I think he's making approximations where the dodginess cancels out."
Yes, he is. This is his preferred approach to order-of-magnitude stuff. He lectured it in part II last year. I think it's the Inference Group way of life. --NT
"Basically the only thing we can do is to assume a spherical person."
"When in doubt, put in a factor of two."
"It's helpful to think in air because it's concrete"
"Just get into the habit of really struggling and having head pains before you look at the answers."
[Writes down a list, numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6] audience: "7!" -Mahajan: "It's order-of-magnitude correct. Only a 14% error, much less than some of the other ones I'll make today."
"Losing too much power makes you feel cold."
"You're trying to generate some kind of kilowatt."
"This one's a magic factor of 2"
"You heat it adiabatically"
"I hope you'll finish this course knowing less. Erm, that could be misinterpreted."
"Even the corner shop has more net worth than the US, if you measure in GDP per nanosecond."
"You kick the ball with an infinitely massive foot"
Dr H P Hughes (Quantum Physics)
"Instead of current I'm talking about current"
"I've never actually bothered to work it out but I'm confindent that this term normalises it."
Stuart [of Hughes]: "Proof by overt scariness of lecturer"
"Just like the discrete sets, these are a continous set of states."
"It's a textbook problem" -Requiem:Which is to say you need a textbook to solve it."
"There's a relation at the top, I can't remember now why I put that in but it seemed important at the time."
"So why have I done that? Well, I often wonder..."
"Likewise, or anti-likewise..."
"Coherent is the right word, but I'm not going to use it."
He also managed to utter the syllable "state" 57 times in thirty minutes in one lecture. Even in quantum, this is impressive. Dr. W Allison (Statistical Physics)
"All rules, there's one exception. In Cambridge, there's usually more than one exception..."
"They all come to a bad end, people who study Thermodynamics"
"That demonstrates that we're in a black box."
"We're almost exactly out of phase with the handouts now."
"What we've done here is draw a graph, with m, and k, and possibly 2 as well, equal to one."
"It's a good box. It's also a star, but it's a box."
Understatement award: "e to the positive infinity is a large number."
Zen electrons: "It's the interactions between them that make them look like a non-interacting system."
"If you want to get stuff right you have to do things correctly"
Other Lecturers/Supervisors? Ernest Rutherford and Dr. J Ellis (Classical Dynamics), showing why not to run-on sentences :"It was about as surprising as firing a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it had come back and hit you. Now, to us, it's not surprising..."
Dr. Ellis: "If you do chemistry you may understand that. If you do physics, you may not, so forget it" (the course is in the Advanced Physics syllabus. There are 30 people in the course (170 strong) doing another experimental science. Draw your own conclusions.
Dr. Ellis: "So, no problem, you just get 3x10^23 equations, one for each direction, and solve them."
(StuartFraser goes to Beyond Beginners, Dancesport A, and Rock'n'Roll floorwork. He was going to squad but realised he didn't have anywhere near that much time. He tried to do Rock'n'Roll acrobatic and was nursing his shoulder the rest of the week as a result.)
Anton: "How do you pronounce that name?" - Paul: "Mark"
Clive: "If you can't get your leg over...erm, if you can't get your leg round to the right side..."
Paul: "If you take nothing else away from this lesson, remember this: Dance like a Sea Slug"
Paul: "Whilst doing waltz you should always try to be as high as possible. Erm, as tall as possible."
Paul: "Never dance with a microphone. They don't know any steps and they never follow."
Paul: "That has the disadvantage that you're not actually dancing with your partner any more, they're just somewhere in the general vicinity of your right hip."
Clive: [stage conspiratorial whisper] "It's very simple, you just put one foot in front of the other. [singsong voice] Now come along, come and play."
Paul: "It looks like a double teapot, but that's OK"
Paul: "We will try and avoid both Nazis and 'please sir, can I go to the toilet'"
Paul: "The two most important things to remember about whisk are, um, I can only remember one of them now. How bizzarre."
CH and Chel are going to beginners on Fridays - can we expect this sort of thing a lot?
It's always possible. In general Paul gets confused and says something daft and quotable once per (1.5 hr Dancesport A) class. Whether he will get less confused with Beginners since it's simpler is of course another question. --SF
Clive: "By now, you should be in the corner you are approaching."
Stuart: "Never give a mathmo an infinite amount of anything, it distracts them."
Stuart: "I think the problem here is that, by induction, you end up with an infinite number of locks on your bicycle."
Martina [in an electronics practical]: "So that wire connects earth to Jupiter..."
Jeff: If you round down and accidentally miscalculate. -Stuart: Or deliberately miscalculate -Jeff: You could do both -Stuart: Wouldn't that put you in danger of accidentally cancelling out your miscalculations? -Jeff: Only on thursdays. -Stuart : Why thursdays? -Jeff: I think I'm sitting too close to the monitor
Jeff: "Well, what is a good reason for thursdays?"
Martina [amazed]: "I've got two points, and they're in a straight line!"