Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Physics Explained

I'm at the Array right now, waiting for the last of the data to finish up so we can drive back tonight. Until then, I just wanted to share an entertaining list explaining physical theories as women. You know, like how Newtonian mechanics is like a high school girlfriend as she's your first encounter with physics and hence amazing...

For whatever reason, it reminds me of the time I went through and decided to write accurate descriptions of the physics undergraduate course catalog. Don't think I ever shared it here, so I'm hoping everyone will enjoy it as getting a post ready gives me something to do while waiting for the all-clear to head out.

Undergraduate Course Listing- Physics

Physics 101- Introductory Physics I

Required by all majors where people are required to think, such as engineering, math, astronomy, and of course physics. You will spend a lot of time learning elementary kinematics, a version of physics that has been disproved from being completely true but is nonetheless confusing enough on its own.
Prerequisites: Grade 12 mathematics

Physics 110- Physics for Pre-Meds
This is the course taken by all the people who are required to take a physics class for their major (biology, chemistry, etc.) but have nightmares over words like 'calculus' or 'integral.' This course also fills the 'charitable benefit to humankind' requirement for the department, as its curve ensures that no one completely stupid will ever get into medical school.
Prerequisites: Grade 8 mathematics

Physics 120- Physics for Poets
(cross-registered with 'Rocks for Jocks' and 'Computers for the Clueless')
This is a blatant attempt on behalf of the department to increase the number of enrolled students in physics. If all the other departments get to do it, why not us?
The professor currently listed is either someone looking for paid early retirement or someone not to be trusted with the actual physics majors. Topics include discerning between 'up' and 'down,' listing the colors in a rainbow in proper order, and a bunch of historical anecdotes that have nothing do with actual physics.
Corequisites: Firing neurons, a pulse

Physics 150: Introductory Physics II
This course is designed as the place where your dreams go to die: that's right, the weed-out course for everyone who survived the first semester of Introductory Physics! We will be covering the topic of electromagnetism, which requires intimate knowledge of the vector calculus you're not learning until next semester.
Prerequisites: Physics 101

Physics 200: Modern Physics
We will introduce and explore the revolutionary ideas and experiments during the last hundred years without explaining any of the maths which would allow you to do something with this knowledge. This is kind of nice for the professor who has a smoke-screen to hide behind whenever he's not entirely certain of what's going on but doesn't want to admit to it.
Prerequisites: Acceptance that everything you learned in Physics 101 is not really true

Physics 300: Mechanics
On the first day of class, the professor will ask anyone expecting to learn about car maintenance to leave, which will thin the crowd down to approximately ten people. Those ten students will then proceed to learn enough about missile trajectory to take over the universe.
Prerequisites: Physics 101

Physics 310: Thermodynamics and Sadistical Mechanics
Have you ever looked at the nothingness in the room and found yourself thinking 'gee, I wonder what quantum and statistical mechanics have to say about the movements of 1,000,000,000,000 gas molecules in a confined space? And have a really crappy textbook which references future material during explanations of key issues?' Well look no further, because this is the course for you!
Prerequisites: Physics 101, Math 666

Physics 320: Quantum Mechanics
This is the class where we finally teach you everything we couldn't teach you properly in Physics 200 because you had no knowledge of linear algebra or partial differential equations. You still don't, but we think anyone who's made it this far should be able to absorb all that during the first week of the semester.
Prerequisites: Physics 200, any math class you can get

Physics 350: Senior Thesis
Despite your paid laboratory assistantship during summer months and the previous school year(s), we are going to start making you pay us for the privilege of doing so by making this a required class. In this way, we hope to sufficiently strap you for cash so as to simulate the graduate student lifestyle for those of you still idealistic enough to consider further education in physics.
Prerequisites: three years of undergraduate laboratory experience
Course fee: your soul