The Graduate

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This week : Physics

Physics was invented by Professor Stephen “Hawkman” Hawking in 1992 following a coke-fuelled party in which Hawking bet Alec Baldwin and Snoop “The Quantum Physicist” Dogg that he could predict the flight path of a paper aeroplane thrown from the fifth floor window of a Hollywood Hilton with absolute precision. Using nothing but the back of a napkin and the sinister forces of Mathematics, Hawking launched the aeroplane straight into a passing bin lorry and used the money from the wager to found the University of Oxbridge. By the year 2000, Hawking was a respected physicist and author, having written such great titles as A Brief History of Time, A Timely History of Briefs and My Briefs are History, the latter of which knocked Peter Higg’s Bosons and Particles and S**t off the Amazon Bestseller list. Despite a flourishing academic career, Hawking still found the time to raise his son, pro-skateboarder and obscure ‘90s video-game fad Tony Hawk. In recognition of all his achievements, Hawking was given a permanent chair at the University of Space.

Nowadays Physics is mainly concerned with embarrassing Chemistry by reducing it to Physics, which is why there is such a rich tradition amongst Physics students of teasing chemists. This tradition dates back to 1669, when Isaac Newton defeated father of Chemistry Joseph Priestley in a game of Scrabble using the word “quantum”, and then made disparaging remarks about the size of Chemistry’s mother. In the 21st Century Physics is very much the sexy science, and as such receives more funding than any other academic discipline, except Hairdressing. Physics departments receive so much funding that they are able to conduct large-scale experiments, as in the case of the famous doomsday machine the Large Hadron Collider, which is currently the largest Scalextric set in existence. Designed by Dr. Victor von Doomenhausen, the machine consists of a series of tubes along which elementary particles, Maltesers or other small objects can be fired at immense speeds, and is powered by billions of hamsters. Dr. von Doomenhausen stated after its completion: “It’s finally ready. Soon all will know the name of Dr. von Doomenhausen.” Scientists hope to one-day use the data gathered from the LHC to build a working Death Star

If you work hard then you may someday help construct such a machine. Therefore, there is a real risk that you may end up going down in history as the first person ever to destroy the world. Whatever field of physics you end up working in, be it scalar, vector or spinor, you will likely get the persistent, troubling feeling that none of what you are doing will really impact the world much at all. In this respect you have much in common with Philosophy students.

Jack Tomms is completely unqualified to make any claims about academia

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