Make your own free website on

Physics Humor


1) You Might Be a Physics Major

2) Things Not to do at Your Thesis Defense

3) Research Phrases

4) Various Types of Proofs

5) Things to Think About

6) New Elements on the Periodic Table









If you have no life - and can PROVE it mathematically

If you enjoy pain

If you know vector calculus but you can't remember how to do long division.

If you chuckle whenever anyone says "centrifugal force."

If you've actually used every single function on your graphing calculator.

If when you look in a mirror, you see a physics major

If it is sunny and 70 degrees outside, you are working on a computer.

If you frequently whistle the theme song to "MacGyver."

If you always do homework on Friday nights.

If you know how to integrate a chicken and can take the derivative of water

If you think in "math."

If you've calculated that the World Series actually diverges.

If you hesitate to look at something because you don't want to break down its wave function.

If you have a pet named after a scientist.

If you laugh at jokes about mathematicians.

If the Humane society has you arrested because you actually performed the Schodinger's Cat experiment.

If you can translate English into Binary.

If you can't remember what's behind the door in the science building which says "Exit."

If you have to bring a jacket with you, in the middle of summer, because there's a wind-chill factor in the lab.

If you are completely addicted to caffeine.

If you avoid doing anything because you don't want to contribute to the eventual heat-death of the universe.

If you consider ANY non-science course "easy."

If when your professor asks you where your homework is, you claim to have accidentally determined its momentum so precisely, that according to Heisenberg it could be anywhere in the universe.

If the "fun" center of your brain has deteriorated from lack of use.

If you'll assume that a "horse" is a "sphere" in order to make the math easier.

If you feel that sleep is a completely inadequate substitute for coffee.

If you understood more than five of these indicators.

If you make a hard copy of this list, and post it on your door.

If these indicators apply to you, there is good reason to suspect that you might be classified as a physics major. I hope this clears up any confusion.





Things Not To Do at Your Thesis Defense


1) "Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for the singing of our National Anthem..."

2) Charge 25 cents a cup for coffee.

3) "Charge the mound" when a professor beans you with a high fast question.

4) Describe parts of your thesis using interpretive dance.

5) "Musical accompaniment provided by..."

6) Stage your own death/suicide.

7) Lead the specators in a Wave.

8) Have a sing-a-long.

9) "You call THAT a question? How the hell did they make you a professor?"

10) "Ladies and Gentlemen, as I dim the lights, please hold hands and concentrate so that we may channel the spirit of Lord Kelvin..."

11) Have bodyguards outside the room to "discourage" certain professors from sitting in.

12) Puppet show.

13) Group prayer.

14) Animal sacrifice to the god of the Underworld.

15) Sell T-shirts to recoup the cost of copying, binding, etc.

16) "I'm sorry, I can't hear you - there's a banana in my ear!"

17) Imitate Groucho Marx.

18) Mime.

19) Hold a Tupperware party.

20) Have a bikini-clad model be in charge of changing the overheads.

21) "Everybody rhumba!!"

22) "And it would have worked if it weren't for those meddling kids..."

23) Charge a cover and check for ID.

24) "In protest of our government's systematic and brutal opression of minorities..."

25) "Anybody else as drunk as I am?"

26) Smoke machines, dramatic lighting, pyrotechnics...

27) Use a Super Soaker to point at people.

28) Surreptitioulsy fill the room with laughing gas.

29) Door prizes and a raffle.

30) "Please phrase your question in the form of an answer..."

31) "And now, a word from our sponsor..."

32) Present your entire talk in iambic pentameter.

33) Whine piteously, beg, cry...

34) Switch halfway through your talk to Pig Latin. Or Finnish Pig Latin.

35) The Emperor's New Slides ("only fools can't see the writing...")

36) Table dance (you or an exotic dancer).

37) Fashion show.

38) "Yo, a smooth shout out to my homies..."

39) "I'd like to thank the Academy..."

40) Minstrel show (blackface, etc.).

41) Previews, cartoons, and the Jimmy Fund.

42) Pass the collection basket.

43) Two-drink minimum.

44) Black tie only.

45) "Which reminds me of a story - A Black guy, a Chinese guy, and a Jew walked into a bar..."

46) Incite a revolt.

47) Hire the Goodyear Blimp to circle the building.

48) Release a flock of doves.

49) Defense by proxy.

50) "And now a reading from the Book of Mormon..."

51) Leave Jehovah's Witness pamphlets scattered about.

52) "There will be a short quiz after my presentation..."

53) "Professor Robinson, will you marry me?"

54) Bring your pet boa.

55) Tell ghost stories.

56) Do a "show and tell".

57) Food fight.

58) Challenge a professor to a duel. Slapping him with a glove is optional.

59) Halftime show.

60) "Duck, duck, duck, duck... GOOSE!"

61) "OK - which one of you farted?"

62) Rimshot.

63) Sell those big foam "We're number #1 (sic)" hands.

64) Pass out souvenier matchbooks.

65) 3-ring defense.

66) "Tag - you're it!"

67) Circulate a vicious rumor that the Dead will be opening, making sure that it gets on the radio stations, and escape during all the commotion.

68) Post signs: "Due to a computer error at the Registrar's Office, the original room is not available, and the defense has been relocated to (Made-up non-existent room number)"

69) Hang a pinata over the table and have a strolling mariachi band.

70) Make each professor remove an item of clothing for each question he asks.

71) Rent a billboard on the highway proclaiming "Thanks for passing me Professors X,Y, and Z" - BEFORE your defense happens.

72) Have a make-your-own-sundae table during the defense.

73) Make committee members wear silly hats.

74) Simulate your experiment with a virtual reality system for the spectators.

75) Do a soft-shoe routine.

76) Throw a masquerade defense, complete with bobbing for apples and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.

77) Use a Greek Chorus to highlight important points.

78) "The responsorial psalm can be found on page 124 of the thesis..."

79) Tap dance.

80) Vaudeville.

81) "I'm sorry Professor Smith, I didn't say 'SIMON SAYS any questions?'. You're out."

82) Flex and show off those massive pecs.

83) Dress in top hat and tails.

84) Hold a pre-defense pep rally, complete with cheerleaders, pep band, and a bonfire.

85) Detonate a small nuclear device in the room. Or threaten to.

86) Shadow puppets.

87) Show slides of your last vacation.

88) Put your overheads on a film strip. Designate a professor to be in charge of turning the strip when the tape recording beeps.

89) Same as #88, but instead of a tape recorder, go around the room making a different person read the pre-written text for each picture.

90) "OK, everybody - heads down on the desk until you show me you can behave."

91) Call your advisor "sweetie".

92) Have everyone pose for a group photo.

93) Instant replay.

94) Laugh maniacally.

95) Talk with your mouth full.

96) Start speaking in tongues.

97) Explode.

98) Implode.

99) Spontaneously combust.

100) Answer every question with a question.

101) Moon everyone in the room after you are done.

102) "Laugh, will you? Well, they laughed at Galileo, they laughed at Einstein..."

103) Hand out 3-D glasses.

104) "I'm rubber, you're glue..."

105) Go into labor (especially for men).

106) Give your entire speech in a "Marvin Martian" accent.

107) "I don't know - I didn't write this."

108) Before your defense, build trapdoors underneath all the seats.

109) Swing in through the window, yelling a la Tarzan.

110) Lock the department head and his secretary out of the defense room. And the coffee lounge, the department office, the copy room, and the mail room. Heck, lock them out of the building. And refuse to sell them stamps.

111) Roll credits at the end. Include a "key grip", and a "best boy".

112) Hang a disco ball in the center of the room. John Travolta pose optional.

113) Invite the homeless.

114) "I could answer that, but then I'd have to kill you"

115) Hide.

116) Get a friend to ask the first question. Draw a blank-loaded gun and "shoot" him. Have him make a great scene of dying (fake blood helps). Turn to the stunned audience and ask "any other wise-ass remarks?"

117) Same as #116, except use real bullets.

118) "Well, I saw it on the internet, so I figured it might be a good idea..."

119) Wear clown makeup, a clown wig, clown shoes, and a clown nose. And nothing else.

120) Use the words "marginalized", "empowerment", and "patriarchy".

121) Play Thesis Mad Libs.

122) Try to use normal printed paper on the overhead projector.

123) Do your entire defense operatically.

124) Invite your parents. Especially if they are fond of fawning over you. ("We always knew he was such an intelligent child")

125) Flash "APPLAUSE" and "LAUGHTER" signs.

126) Mosh pit.

127) Have cheerleaders. ("Gimme an 'A'!!")

128) Bring Howard Cosell out of retirement to do color commentary.

129) "I say Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!"

130) Claim political asylum.

131) Traffic reports every 10 minutes on the 1's.

132) Introduce the "Eyewitness Thesis Team". Near the end of your talk, cut to Jim with sports and Alison with the weather.

133) Live radio and TV coverage.

134) Hang a sign that says "Thank you for not asking questions"

135) Bring a microphone. Point it at the questioner, talk-show style.

136) Use a TelePromTer

137) "Take my wife - please!"

138) Refuse to answer questions unless they phrase the question as a limerick.

139) Have everyone bring wine glasses. When they clink the glasses with a spoon, you have to kiss your thesis. Or your advisor.

140) Offer a toast.

141) Firewalk.

142) Start giving your presentation 15 minutes early.

143) Play drinking thesis games. Drink for each overhead. Drink for each question. Chug for each awkward pause. This goes for the audience as well.

144) Swoop in with a cape and tights, Superman style.

145) "By the power of Greyskull..."

146) Use any past or present Saturday Night Live catchphrase. Not.

147) Stand on the table.

148) "You think this defense was bad? Let me read this list to show you what I COULD have done..."






Research Phrases (and what they really mean)



"It has long been known..."

I didn't look up the original references


"A definite trend is evident..."

These data are practically meaningless


"Of great theoretical and practical importance..."

Interesting to me


"While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions..."

An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published


"Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study..."

The results of the others didn't make any sense


"Typical results are shown..."

The best results are shown


"These results will be shown in a subsequent report..."

I might get around to this if I'm pushed


"The most reliable results are those obtained by Jones..."

He was my graduate assistant


"It is believed that..."

I think


"It is generally believed that..."

A couple of other guys think so, too


"It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of the phenomenon occurs..."

I don't understand it


"Correct within an order of magnitude..."



"It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field..."

This is a lousy paper, but so are all the others on this miserable topic


"A careful analysis of obtainable data..."

Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer




Various Types of Proofs


Proof of Blatant Assertion:

Use words and phrases like "clearly...,""obviously...,""it is easily shown that...," and "as any fool can plainly see..."

Proof by Seduction:

"If you will just agree to believe this, you might get a better final grade."

Proof by Intimidation:

"You better believe this if you want to pass the course."

Proof by Interruption:

Keep interrupting until your opponent gives up.

Proof by Misconception:

An example of this is the Freshman's Conception of the Limit Process: "2 equals 3 for large values of 2." Once introduced, any conclusion is reachable.

Proof by Obfuscation:

A long list of lemmas is helpful in this case - the more, the better.

Proof by Confusion:

This is a more refined form of proof by obfuscation. The long list of lemmas should be arranged into circular patterns of reasoning - and perhaps more baroque structures such as figure-eights and fleurs-de-lis.

Proof by Exhaustion:

This is a modification of an inductive proof. Instead of going to the general case after proving the first one, prove the second case, then the third, then the fourth, and so on - until a sufficiently large n is achieved whereby the nth case is being propounded to a soundly sleeping audience.


Things to Think About




   Element: WOMAN
   Symbol: Wo
   Atomic Weight: 120 (more or less)
   Physical Properties: Generally round in form. Boils at nothing and may
   freeze anytime. Melts whenever treated properly. Very bitter if not
   used well.
   Chemical properties: Very active. Possesses strong affinity to gold,
   silver, platinum, and precious stones. Violent when left alone. Able
   to absorb great amount of exotic food. Turns slightly green when
   placed beside a better specimen. Ages rapidly.
   Usage: Highly ornamental. An extremely good catalyst for
   disintegration of wealth. Probably the single most powerful income
   reducing agent known. Found in various states, ranging from virgin metal to common ore.
   Caution: Highly explosive in inexperienced hands.

   Element: MAN
   Symbol: XY
   Common Name(s): Varies anywhere from John to !@#$&*!
   Atomic Weight: 180 +/-100 Physical Properties: Solid at room
   temperature, but easily gets bent out of shape. Fairly dense and
   sometimes flaky. Difficult to find a pure sample. Due to rust, aging
   samples are unable to conduct electricity as easily as young, fresh
   Chemical Properties: Attempts to bond with Wo any chance it can get.
   Also, tends to form strong bonds with itself. Becomes explosive when
   mixed with Kd (element Kid) for a prolonged period of time.
   Usage: None really, except methane production. Good samples are able
   to produce large quantities on command.
   Caution: In the absence of Wo, this element rapidly decomposes and
   begins to smell.