A theory of excited states

By Phil Plait | June 11, 2009 11:33 am

When I was in grad school it occurred to my roommate and me that a lot of high-level physics jargon sounds like double-entendres: excited states, stimulated emission, and so on. We would giggle like schoolboys (which technically I suppose we were) and that was about it.

Perhaps I should have pursued this, as there could be funding in it. That’s what Telescoper did, in his essay A Unified Quantum Theory of the Sexual Interaction. Warning: while this is maybe kinda sorta NSFW, it is absolutely not safe for math/physics-phobes. This is high-level jokery about low-level topics. If eigentstates and unitary matrices leave you cold, then don’t click it. But if superpositions and mixing angles collimate your secondaries, then that post’ll be the best thing you’ve read in a long time.

Tip o’ the CRC manual to Astropixie again!


Comments (29)

  1. LOL! ūüėÄ Thanks for the laugh! I wonder if the folks at TBBT will get a hold of this for some additional material. I can see Wollowitz’s excitement and Sheldon’s confusion.

  2. Old Muley

    Tee hee! He said “stimulated emission”! Tee hee tee hee!


  4. DrFlimmer

    That’s BRILLIANT!! I laughed the whole time while reading it. Physicist need to become more related to real life.
    It is often said that we can’t find words for what we are doing. I think there is no better way to explain quantum mechnics to the lay-people than this!


  5. Sorry physics. Nothing beats the SN2 reaction from organic chemistry. Yep – the old “backside attack”


    College Roommates.

  7. I still remember the day when my high school math teacher proved the function: The integral of e to the x equals some function of u to the n. ūüėČ

  8. Jon B

    I’ve always wondered why they named them “Top” and “Bottom” Quarks…

  9. Cindy

    One way to get teenage boys interested in physics.

  10. Way back in college, I wrote a long lost thesis on relativistic sex exploring all kinds of dilations and contractions…I do not believe it was nearly as good as this!

  11. Davidlpf

    My interstellar medium course there were 4 guys in their early twenties and the prof was fairly attractive women in her thirties. A couple of times she said “excited emissions”, and there would be a chuckle. Then she would turn around with a grin when she realized what she said.

  12. MadScientist

    There are numerous running gags in chemistry as well – for example the P-NIS technique used in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or that Australian chemist who put out a challenge to produce an arsenic analog of the ‘phosphols’ – as he put it, “the successful chemist would be the first to produce an arsol in the laboratory”.

  13. John Baxter

    I’ll just settle for the “Field Piece” issue of MIT’s VooDoo (spelling?) humor magazine, which unfortunately was published the year before I arrived.

  14. Bobcloclimar

    A joke a roomie and I came up with while studying QM, which is similar to one of the ones at the start:
    Dirac notation is about the closest thing most of us will ever get to handling a bra. But when we do, it often results in an inner product.

  15. ethanol

    “Self- interactions involving a solitary phase are generally difficult to observe, although examples have been documented that involve short-lived but highly-excited states accompanied by various forms of stimulated emission, although the resulting fluxes are generally not well measured. This form of interaction also appears to be the current preoccupation of string theorists.”


  16. Davidlpf

    I guess we all should go over to the h-bar.

  17. Sundance

    Okay, this is going STRAIGHT ON MY OFFICE DOOR! :-) I can’t wait to hear how many people crack up as they walk past and start reading it.

  18. Tim G

    Classical physics can also serve as an outlet.

    If you shove a bar magnet in and out of a coil of wire to demonstrate induction, it kinda resembles a certain biological activity. Insert your own remarks about “discharge”, “shocking”, “conduct”, “resistance” etc.

  19. Pieter Kok

    That’s a very funny blog post. I was dreading “clever” superposition jokes, but my fear was unfounded.

    PS. Best EM double entendre: “penetration depth” (aka skin depth).

  20. Ken

    What is is with web designers and grey-on-black text?


  21. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    :-) Now I see why they call natural sciences “hard”.

    Of course, the Copenhagen interpretation is somewhat goofy in this context (too), as decoherence is the expected phenomena of drinking enough Carlsberg.

  22. Pigeon Is Box

    Wow, this was quite a shock; seeing you link to the blog of one of my lecturers…

    This article was even better than the time when he set us an exercise to work out the accuracy of the values given in the Monty Python Galaxy Song.

  23. JB

    However, he didn’t get into the physics of coupled osculations…

  24. Buzz Parsec

    John Baxter, one of my partners was an editor of the Voodoo (not sure of spelling.) He said all they did was subscribe to a bunch of other college humor mags and 2 or 3 times a year cut and paste their favorite articles to make a new issue. He seemed proud of this… (Literal cut and pasting, this was long before computer-based publishing.) He used to have a stack of old Voodoos in his office, but they seem to be gone now. Probably took them with him when he semi-retired.


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