Friday, May 9, 2008

Dear Professor

Yesterday was the awards ceremony and dinner for the senior undergraduate physics majors, and while I'm not graduating until December I went as this is my class and all that. As part of the ceremonies all us students had to read a cute poem from the compilation Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum? by Nin Andrews, which are assembled from emails students wrote to a physics professor. They were all great, but I saw one I immediately knew I needed to read-

Dear Professor,
I heard the Brian Greene talk
on string theory. He even showed pictures
of these stringy things.
Like vibes. That explains everything.
And I had really good vibes about Brian Greene.
Do you know if he's single?

Another one I quite related with in the book, while we're at it:

When I was in your office
and you showed me the problem
about the weight lifter and the dumbbells,
I kept smiling and saying yes,
but I didn't really understand a word you were saying.
I tried, but it's like you were speaking
a different language.
I think new professors do that.
They get lost in translation.
So I thought maybe I should tell you
that when a student smiles and nods and says yes
a lot,
what she really means is she has no idea
what you're talking about.

It should also be noted, here at the bottom so I can be discreet, that there were politics afoot recently in that it turned out several professors wanted to nominate me for one of the departmental awards, but the university refused on the grounds that I'm not yet graduating. They decided this would be "no fun," so the powers that be created a one-time-only award for me, for my "exemplary services to the department of physics."

I was so overwhelmed by this gesture of kindness that I nearly cried. This department will be hard to leave.