So this is what passes for higher eduction these days?

Your american ways and customs are strange and frightening to us Canadians.
Your collective descent into the toilet continues...
============================= Columbia professor strips down to underwear in bizarre lesson to help baffled students learn quantum mechanics.
'In order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain, and start over again,'
Prof. Emlyn Hughes said. Against a backdrop of 9/11 and Holocaust images, he remained in a fetal position as two people dressed as ninjas blindfolded stuffed animals.
==============http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1267460.1361249254 !/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/columbia19n-1-web.jpg
Photo of Prof. Hughes taking off his pants ============== http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/video-prof-strips-bizarre-lesson-article-1.1267461#ixzz2LJlqqm6g
This Columbia University professor’s approach to teaching quantum mechanics is a real eye-opener.
Prof. Emlyn Hughes gave students a bizarre performance Monday, stripping down to his underwear as images of 9/11 and the Holocaust showed on a screen behind him.
Hughes remained in the fetal position on the floor as two people dressed as ninjas blindfolded two stuffed animals and impaled one of them with a sword. The whole five-minute skit was posted on the website Bwog.
The students at first encouraged Hughes to dance to the music that was playing as he stripped, but then were dismayed when footage of the Twin Towers collapsing and wartime Nazi Germany began rolling, the video shows.
“What is happening?” one female student asks repeatedly. “I am so confused,” another says.
When Hughes pulled out a microphone, one female student mistook it for a firearm. “He has a gun,” she said before realizing her mistake.
Hughes then addressed the class and suggested that he intended to confuse them to better prepare their brains for the complexity of quantum mechanics.
“In order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain, and start over again,” he said.
“Um, nothing you’ve learned in your life up til now is in any way going to help prepare you for this. . . . I’ve been tasked with the impossible challenge of teaching you quantum mechanics in one hour.”
Neither the professor nor the university immediately responded to messages seeking comment.
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On Tuesday, February 19, 2013 6:48:27 AM UTC-8, Higher Education wrote:

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1267460.1361249254 !/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/columbia19n-1-web.jpg

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/video-prof-strips-bizarre-lesson-article-1.1267461#ixzz2LJlqqm6g

If you compare what's on TV, movies and the music being played today to that of the sixties and seventies you will see that communal imagination "has left the building". What the professor did might be just what today's reality TV, text message generation needs.
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On Tuesday, February 19, 2013 11:36:20 AM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

of the sixties and seventies you will see that communal imagination "has left the building".

Yup, what this professor did would've been considered normal in the 70's.
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On 2/20/2013 3:21 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

of the sixties and seventies you will see that communal imagination "has left the building".

Might have been interesting. Quantum mechanics was tough for me as there is nothing to relate to.
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On Wed, 20 Feb 2013 16:09:36 -0500, Frank

of the sixties and seventies you will see that communal imagination "has left the building".

You're really some Einstein, aren't you? ;-)
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Welcome to Quantum Mechanics 101:
Just as physicists today wonder why there seems to be more gravity holding our Milky Way galaxy and the whole universe together than there should be, the big question in physics at the turn of the 20th century was the problem of "Cavity Radiation", more commonly called "Black Body Radiation".
Here is the problem that was keeping physicists awake at night:
If you take any hollow object and heat it until it glows, the spectrum of the electromagnetic energy (heat, light, etc.) that comes off the outer surface of that object will depend on both it's temperature and what it's made of.
But, if you drill a hole into that object, and measure the spectrum of the electromagnetic energy coming out of the hole, the spectrum you get depends only on the temperature, and is the same for all materials.
WTF?
The light, heat and everything that comes out of the hole had to originate at the interior surface of that hollow body, which is the same material as the outside surface, so why wouldn't the energy coming out the hole be the same regardless of what the object is made of?
In 1896, a german physicist by the name of Wilhelm Wien used theories of heat and electromagnetism that were current at his time to derive a theoretical equation which predicted experimental measurements of cavity radiation. Wien's theoretical equation was:
[image:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/math/5/f/f/5ff891772bd6137b37a768e18aa03bd4.png ]
The problem was that Wien's equation really didn't work well for all temperatures. That is, it was great theory, but it just didn't jive well with experimental data.
A young physicst by the name of Maxwell Planck was working on the problem of cavity radiation at the time and had developed an "emperical" equation which gave results that matched experimental results very accurately at all temperatures.
(An "emperical" equation is one that isn't based on any theory at all. You come up with an emperical equation by doing experiments, plotting the results on a graph to find out what kind of a curve you get looks like, and then coming up with an equation that matches that curve as closely as possible. Your equation might predict experimental results very accurately, but there's no reason why it should, so you can't learn anything from that equation.)
The emperical equation Max Planck had developed based on experimental data was:
[image:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/math/d/e/4/de49247c3e38ac7ef9a3c713d822d308.png ]
And it wasn't lost on Max Planck that the two equations were astonishingly similar!
When Planck read Wien's paper describing the derivation of his theoretical equation, Planck decided to work backward through Wein's derivation using his emperical equation as a starting, ...errr... ending point, to see if he could come up with a similar theoretical derivation of his emperical equation.
And, within two months he found he could do it. All he had to do was make two unsettling assumptions at the beginning of his derivation:
1. that an atom could not have ANY amount of energy, only certain discreet amounts of energy. This is very much like saying that you cannot have ANY amount of money in your wallet, only multiples of the smallest amount of money, the penny. So, you can have $3.14 in your wallet or $3.15 in your wallet, but not pi dollars in your wallet. Similarily, you can't have a third of a dollar in change; you can only have 33 cents or 34 cents, but not 33.33333...... cents.
2. that the vibration of atoms at any frequency neither consumed nor released any energy. Energy was released when an atom dropped from a high energy level to a lower energy level, and it was absorbed when an atom jumped from a lower energy level to a higher energy level, but the vibration of the atom at any given energy level required no energy at all.
On December 14, 1900, Max Planck presented the derivation of his equation to the Berlin Physical Society, but to physicist that were used to thinking about atoms as billiard balls and energy as waves, Planck's theoretical derivation seemed completely implausible because of the bizarre assumptions about matter and energy he had to make. So, prominant physicists of the time took no notice of him or his equation.
Unbeknownst to them, Max's presentation on December 14, 1900 turned out to be time and place of birth of the branch of physics that has come to be known as "Quantum Mechanics".
Subsequent experiments over the course of the next 17 years proved Max's "quantized" version of energy to be correct, and in 1918 Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "in recognition of the services he rendered to the advancement of Physics by his discovery of energy quanta."
That is, if energy were money, Planck had discovered the penny.
Using Planck's new "quantized" version of electromagnetic energy, in the 1920's Neils Bohr was able to calculate what the light spectrum of monotomic hydrogen gas should be. And, he got it right. To four decimal places. That gave the Max Planck's version of things some serious credibility.
The discovery of the "energy quanta" put the first crack in our understanding of matter as being a particle and energy as being a wave. Subsequent experiments have proved conclusively that if you set up an experiment to prove that electromagnetic energy is a wave, you'll prove conclusively that it's a wave and not a particle. But, if you set up an experiment to prove that electromagnetic energy is a particle, you'll prove conclusively that it's a particle and not a wave. Today we have less confidence in our understanding of what matter and energy are than we did in 1900.
The only thing we know for sure is that the world of the very very small, the atom and smaller, is every bit as strange as Prof. Emlyn Hughes stripping down to his underwear and remaining in a fetal position as two assistants dressed up as ninjas blindfold stuffed animals against a backdrop of 9/11 and holocaust images played on a screen behind them...
.. and I applaud Dr. Hughes for being bold enough to teach that lesson to his students in such a spectacular and memorable way. No one who was there will ever forget it.
--
nestork


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And hopefully Columbia will do the right thing and discipline him for his stupid little stunt. The fact that quantum mechanics is different from Newtonian physics and has some bizarre aspects justifies stripping in public, offending students and acting like a nut? Geeez....
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> And hopefully Columbia will do the right thing and discipline him for > his stupid little stunt. The fact that quantum mechanics is different > from Newtonian physics and has some bizarre aspects justifies stripping > in public, offending students and acting like a nut?

I'd cut the guy some slack on this one. He did it cuz he wanted to impress on his students how bizarre things got at that level, and that shows he's putting his student's education ahead of his own pride and dignity. We want to see that kind of enthusiasm for education in teachers.
Still, in retrospect, and if I were him, I would have curled up in a fetal position on the floor wearing a penguin costume while laundry and dish soap commercials played on the screen instead.
That would have made it a "family friendly" event. :)
--
nestork


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the guy wasn't naked... Mark
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