Sunday, April 13, 2008

A chuckle...

Old/New Element: "Governmentium"

For those who have not stayed abreast with the new Large Hadron Collider there is bad news. The new element is not a rumor but seems to have been around for a few centuries.

The new element has been named Governmentium.

Governmentium (Gv) has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take over four days to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isotopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium — an element which radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

"The Love Boson"


Lynda Williams

The Standard Model of Physics
has four forces in it:
the Strong, the Weak, Gravity
and the Electromagnetic.
But I've discovered a new force
that rules from high above.
Let me propose to you
a Unified Theory of Love!

Gluons are Strong!
They make a quantum-chromo glue
binding quarks into atoms
like I am bound to you.

Z's and W's are Weak!
They make particles decay
and atoms radioactive
that's how I feel when you're away.

Photons mediate E&M -
both particle and wave - they're so

Gravitons attract
both mass and energy
they make the world go round and round
that's what you do to me.

And so I'm searching for the boson
that mediates the force of Love!
But you can't measure it!
You can only feel it!

Pulling on the superstrings of your heart!
We should add it to the Standard Model Chart
the force that rules from high above
in a Unified Field Theory of Love!

1998 Lynda Williams

Elementary particle...the "Peon"

Physicists have an extremely diverse range of hobbies. Though they traditionally enjoy such outdoor activities as llama hunting and SCUBA running (entering marathons while donning the SCUBA gear, flippers and all), the recent trend has been towards a more challenging task: predicting and naming elementary particles prior to their discovery.

If Hideki Yukawa can predict the existence of the muon before it was ever seen, I too can follow in a similar fashion. I propose the possibility of a new particle - the peon.

The peon is a rather simple particle and by far the coolest. Just like all good particles, it has an evil twin brother, the anti-peon, where a collision between the two results in an annihilation into ambivalence:

It will be the heaviest of the heavy elementary particles, in a group known as the carryons. Topping the scales at an incredible 2045 MeV (mostly because of its beer gut), it is composed of even smaller particles known as quarks. Quarks, as most good people know, are of six types: up, down, strange, charmed, bottom, and top. The existence of the peon depends on the existence of two new quarks, the good and evil quarks.

It is one of the most elusive of the elementary particles, so it will be extremely difficult to locate. Most likely, peons will be found hitching a ride on gravity waves, which are tough to measure as it is. Steps have already been taken to find these waves. In 1969, Joseph Weber developed what came to be known as the Weber Bar. With this device he had hoped to lure the peons, known for their lack of morals) for a drink or two, but Weber ran into problems as other nonethical particles (especially those leptons) kept riding through on their Harley waves, causing too many disturbances in his bar. It became impossible to pinpoint the peon in the midst of such a ruckus.

The bubble chamber offers the best hope for finding the peon. The bubble chamber is a large container filled with liquid hydrogen. As charged particles zip through it they leave a path of angry ionized hydrogen atoms. Much can be learned about the particles by examining this path and by interviewing the upset atoms. However, to find the peon, one replaces the liquid hydrogen with cold lager and indeed, the path left by the peon will resemble a drunken stupor.

The Ten Commandments for Amateur Astronomers

1. Thou shalt have no white light before thee, behind thee, or to the side of thee whilst sharing the night sky with thy fellow stargazers.

2. Thou shalt not love thy telescope more than thy spouse or thy children; as much as, maybe, but not more.

3. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's telescope, unless it exceeds in aperture or electronics twice that of thy wildest dreams.

4. Thou shalt not read Astronomy or Sky & Telescope on company time, for thine employer makes it possible to continue thine astronomical hobby.

5. Thou shalt have at least two telescopes so as to keep thy spouse interested when the same accompanies thee under the night sky or on eclipse expeditions to strange lands where exotic wild animals
doth roam freely.

6. Thou shalt not allow either thy sons or thy daughters to get married during the Holy Days of Starfest.

7. Thou shalt not reveal to thy spouse the true cost of thy telescope collection; only the individual components, and that shallbe done with great infrequency.

8. Thou shalt not buy thy spouse any lenses, filters, dew shields, maps, charts, or any other necessities for Christmas, anniversaries, or birthdays unless thy spouse needs them for their own telescope.

9. Thou shalt not deceive thy spouse into thinking that ye are taking them for a romantic Saturday night drive when indeed thou art heading for a dark sky site.

10. Thou shalt not store thy telescope in thy living room,
dining room, or bedroom, lest thou be sleeping with it full time.

Some Fermilab humor?
Godzilla jealous?
Don't mess with the 400 foot Japanese monster

Einstein vs. Godzilla: The Green Guy Wins

So who’s this Einstein guy I keep hearing about? He writes these five papers a hundred years ago, and now the whole world wants a year to glorify him? Booshwah, I say. This year is WYOG — World Year of Godzilla, my 50th anniversary, kicking off my second half-century of tromping on Tokyo and New York, and whomping on any monster wannabe or pusillanimous professor I spot along the way. If this bad-hair egghead wants to do some banging — BRING IT ON!

Now, if, as some say, I’m the kinder, gentler sort of radiation mutation, I admit this much: I do give the guy a tip of my hat. "Einstein, old pal," I say, "I really do owe it all to you, bless your relativistic, chain-reacting little heart. Why, without E=mc2, I would never have seen the light of day." It’s true, too. Split some atoms here and there, toss in a little 1950s-style superpower brinkmanship, test a few nuclear devices, and — AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH! — I come bursting on the scene with tongue flaming and top billing right from the start: "GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS!" It is good to be the king.

Sure, you've been on the cover of Time, Einstein, but do they call you "EINSTEIN, KING OF THE PHYSICISTS"? Do populations flee in fear when you're near? No way, sockless savant! You got your five papers in early, but how many did you do 50 years later? Ha! I thought so. My 29th movie just came out in Japan last month — and I'm still doing all my own stunts! Match that, equation-head. You say you've still got some tricks up your sleeve, Einstein? Remember King Kong? I fought King Kong. I outlasted King Kong. And Einstein, you're no King Kong!

Symmetry, Volume 2, Issue 1, February 2005

"Atom and Eve"

Annually, the world is presented with a tongue-in-cheek awards ceremony called the "Ig Nobel Awards" given to scientists who research some rather bizarre subjects. Fun and humor abounds. Each ceremony is opened with a mini opera such as the one below.


"Atom and Eve"

A tale of inter-scalar romance, in 4 acts

Words by

Marc Abrahams


ACT 1 -- "No Wandering Atom I"

NARRATOR (spoken): Tonight's opera is a love story. Eve is a lovely young scientist who falls in love with Atom. Atom is an oxygen atom. There are some obvious difficulties to be overcome.

Staging this opera presented a difficulty for us. We were unable to find an experienced singer who is small enough to play the role of Atom. And so we will make do with Jason McStoots. Jason, will you please come out here and take a bow? You in the audience will have to imagine that he is actually the size of an oxygen atom.

Our other main character, Eve, will be played by Margot Button. Margot, will you please come out here and take a bow? Margot is exactly the right size to play a beautiful scientist. You in the audience will have to imagine that she is actually the size you see here. And now, we begin the opera.

Atom is a poor, solitary atom, who yearns for companionship and true love. One day, Atom feels something strange and wonderful. Someone is looking at him through a scanning probe microscope. Perhaps, Atom wonders, perhaps that someone could be... the woman of his dreams. Let's join little Atom now as this thought enters his tiny mind.

[MUSIC: "A Wandering Minstrel I," by Arthur Sullivan, from the Mikado]


It's elementary.

I know I'm just an atom,

Down in the lowest stratum

Of humblest society.

From what I learned in school

I know I should be bonding.

My parents are desponding

Because I'm not a molecule.

My future seems so, so, so very miniscule.

What if I dream of bigger things?

They will object.

Oh, sorrow!

They say I'm made of tiny strings.

Are they correct?

Oh, sorrow, sorrow!

I feel some larger force

From some enormous source.

I dream of inter--.

Can we connect?

Tomorrow? Tomorrow?

Oh, a woman's love is just what I have wanted.

But women are on such a bigger scale

That a nanoscopic guy could well be daunted --

Yet somehow I don't think that I will fail!

It's true that I don't have a massive body.

Yes, it's true that what I've got is pretty crude.

Eight protons may seem far from being gaudy,

By thirty orders, more or less, of magnitude.

My unseen love may be looking at me

Through some big microscope.

If she's not a he, I am sure that she

Is excited at what little she can see --

At least that is what I hope!

I feel her gaze in a glancing way,

But how can she really know

That of all of the zillion little dots,

That in that crowd

There is standing proud

One who has the hots for her --

Though he's just a little schmoe!

No wandering atom I,

Now that I have caught snatches

Of who my perfect match is.

This very Eve I will try-y-y somehow to catch... this gigantical lady's eye!

ACT 2 -- "Eve's Song"

NARRATOR: Back in Act One of our opera, the little oxygen atom, Atom, intuited that someone was watching him through an atomic force microscope. Here in Act Two, we discover that that someone is Eve, a lovely scientist. For Eve, looking down through her microscope, it's love at first sight. Let's join Eve as she ogles her little Atom.

[MUSIC: "Poor Wand'ring One," by Arthur Sullivan, from "Pirates of Penzance"]

[EVE is peering down into her microscope. Her FELLOW SCIENTISTS watch her. All are wearing lab coats.]


Poor wand'ring one!

Look at this oxygen atom,

See him attract!

See me react!

See my heart run!

Could we combine?

Or would such love be forbidden?

Love that entails

Such diff’rent scales --

Eensy and elephantine?

Does he know I exist?

If so, then will he resist

All the force of my nature

That yearns for us to have kissed?

Will he ask for a date?

When? Oh, when? Oh, why should he wait?

Here's a technical challenge:

Now, how will we copu---?





How will we mate --

I and this oxygen atom?

Well now, gee whiz,

The answer is:

I will oxygenate!

ACT 3 -- "I'm Nano!"

NARRATOR: In Act Three of our opera, the little oxygen atom, Atom, devises a clever way that he and his soon-to-be-beloved Eve can meet up. Let’s join Atom now, and listen to his little cogitations.

[MUSIC: "Titwillow," by Arthur Sullivan, from the Mikado]


Oh, an oxygen atom is really quite small.

O, I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

Why, compared to a woman, I'm nothing at all.

O, I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

For conventional wooing, I'm not well designed,

But so what if my toolkit is underdefined?

I've a plan of a rather adventurous kind.

I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

She inhales lots of oxygen with every breath.

O, I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

Now, if she hyperventilates, she'll cause my death.

O, I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

But if she breathes in softly, I'll go with the flow --

Diffuse in through a lung, and then next thing you know,

Hooked on fresh hemoglobin -- a-riding I'll go!

I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

Sitting in a red blood cell, I’ll zip through a vein.

O, I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

And the bloodstream will carry me straight to her brain.

O, I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

Once inside her cerebrum, who knows what I'll find --

If I’m lucky, a place to relax and unwind.

See, the main thing I hope is: she'll keep me in mind!

I'm nano! I'm nano! I'm nano!

ACT 4 -- "Bose-Einstein Condensate"

NARRATOR: When we last saw little Atom, he was hoping that Eve would breathe him into her lungs, from which point he would then enter the bloodstream and travel to Eve's brain. Alas, Eve was so-o-o-o-o excited that she hyperventilated. So, that plan turned out to be a no-brainer.

Now, here, in the final act of the opera, science will come to the rescue! The physics community, in a great triumph, has just figured out how to make a BOSE-EINSTEIN CONDENSATE. In a Bose-Einstein condensate, a huge number of atoms are cooled, using laser beams, to a temperature that is staggeringly cold. When that happens -- as predicted by the theories of Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein in the year 1926 -- when that happens, ALL the atoms suddenly behave as if they are a SINGLE, GIGANTIC, ATOM.

Let's watch as the scientists transform our little Atom into a gigantic, handsome, Bose-Einstein condensate.

[MUSIC: "El Capitan," by John Philip Sousa]


We did it all for love.

We cooled some atoms with laser beams,

With physics way above

The stuff of missile defenders' dreams.

The atoms conflate

Into one great

Big Bose-Einstein condensate.

We'll do it now for love ---

We'll take this atom who's unfulfilled.

Give him the wherewithof ---

A manly cool, and a massive build.

Put him in a state

To consummate

His Bose-Einstein dinner date.

Turn on the lasers NOW! [this line is shouted in unison by ALL the scientists on stage]

Each tuned to a special frequency,

A color of potent piquancy!

And now watch us create

A serviceable atomic condensate!

[The LASER BEAMS are turned on. ATOM materializes, full-size.]

Oh, gosh! Oh, gee! Oh, WOW! [this line is shouted in unison by ALL the scientists on stage]

This atom has now been re-defined

As something resembling humankind.

We've made a man of him --

Well, technic'lly speaking, more a synonym.


Yes, yes! My little Atom has grown up, and come to stay.

He'll never go away.

I'll see him ev'ry day!


No, no! Your little Atom's big day is a little blip.

Cause when we turn the lasers off, he's zip.


Oh, my!


The best we can suggest

Is something we can do to YOU:

You, too, we can condense.

But that's a bit intense.


Why not? Yes, squish me down into a single molecule.

One molecule! That's really COOL!

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Oh, yes! Please condense me now!

Cause if you don't, you'll incense me now!


You heard her. So, let's condense her now.

What joie de vivre!

Good-bye now, Eve!

[The SCIENTISTS crush EVE. ATOM looks suddenly very, very afraid.]

Now let's turn off all those laser beams.

This Atom seems

Just the type who screams.

[The LASER BEAMS turn off. ATOM shrivels and vanishes.]

A little love is a lovely sight,

But love this slight...

Just isn't right.

"At the Party with the Physicists"

One day, all of the world's famous physicists decided to get together for a party [okay, there were some non-physicists too who crashed the party]. Fortunately, the doorman was a grad student and was able to observe some of the guests...

Everyone gravitated toward Newton, but he just kept moving around at a constant velocity and showed no reaction.

Einstein thought it was a relatively good time.

Coulomb got a real charge out of the whole thing.

Thompson enjoyed the plum pudding.

Pauli came late, but was mostly excluded from things, so he split.

Pascal was under too much pressure to enjoy himself.

Ohm spent most of the time resisting Ampere's opinions on current events.

Volta thought the social had a lot of potential.

Heisenberg may or may not have been there.

Feynman got from the door to the buffet table by taking every possible path

The Curies were there and just glowed the whole time.

Millikan dropped his Italian oil dressing.

de Broglie mostly just stood in the corner and waved.

Everyone was attracted to Tesla's magnetic personality.

Bohr ate too much and got atomic ache.

Watt turned out to be a powerful speaker.

Hertz went back to the buffet table several times a minute.

Faraday had quite a capacity for food.

Oppenheimer got bombed.

The microwave started radiating in the background when Penzias and Wilson showed up.

Gamow left the party early with a big bang while Hoyle stayed late in a steady state.

For Schrodinger this was more a wave function rather than a social function.

Born thought the probability of enjoying himself was pretty high.

Pauling wanted to bond with everyone.

Pavlov brought his dog; which promptly chased after Schrodinger's cat.

Zeno of Elea came with two friends - Achilles and the tortoise.

Bill Gates came to install windows.

The food was beautifully laid out by Mendeleyev on the periodic table.

Watson and Crick danced the Double Helix.

Maxwell's demon argued with Dawkin's friend, the selfish Gene.

Rontgen saw through everybody.

Descartes cogitated, "I think I am drunk. Therefore I am at the party."

Bush dumps Space Shutte program

Jim Carrey & Conan O'Brian Discuss Quantum Physics

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