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June 13
November 5
From: bcbf
At first, God said :

   Rot E = -dB/dt

   Div D = rho

   Div B = 0

   Rot H = j + dD/dt

and there was the light.
                           J. C. Maxwell

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From: J. Richard Jacobs (On the Science Jokes mailing list:
                  REFRACTION AND THE INDEX THEREOF . . .

And the Lord said, "Let there be light," and there was light. He/she/it
saw that it was . . . bent . . . and verily backed he/she/it away therefrom
to ponder. Upon seeing that this anamoly would bring forth much confusion
and concern among his/her/its creations he/she/it summoned forth one of the
angels who lurked there about and gave him/her/it instruction.

"Goeth ye down to the earth and the inhabitants thereof with this sacred
law that I shall giveth thee and there thou shalt deliver it unto one who
shall be named Snell and thou shalt instruct him to diseminate this law
hither and yon to all the lowly students of Physics 101 so they may go
forth into the world and enlighten the inhabitants thereof regarding this
apparent error in my divine creation. Thou shalt admonish the one called
Snell that he is to make it clear that the law worketh in both directions,
yea going in and coming out, and that it is universal to all things that
possesseth a property I shall call optically clear wherein I have limited
the speed of light to less than that of the heavens. He shall call the
ratio between these two speeds the Holy Index of Refraction and he shall
writeth it down as I have given it to you, using the humble small letter n
and he shall separate the n of the heavens from the n of the materials
possessing the properties I have outlined by calling them n1 and n2. The
Holy Convention shall dictate that n1 is to the left and n2 to the right so
that all shall proceed with their calculations in the same manner. Thus it
shall be for all time, yea, even relativistic."

Thus the angel went down to the earth and did as he/she/it had been
instructed by the Lord and it came to pass that Snell, being a faithful and
obedient servant of the Lord, did precisely as he had been instructed. The
Lord saw that this was good and named he/she/it the results of the law
refraction and the people of the earth accepted his/her/its law in all its
various forms, yea, even the simpleminded thin lens formula, and rejoiced
in the name of the Lord and the word refraction was on the lips of every
student who had the great privelege of graduating from high school.

Part of GENESIS according to J. Richard Jacobs

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From snowhare#NoSpam.nihongo.org Tue Feb 23 04:30:01 1999
Last week a national ISP had the mis-fortune to have their banner ad
touting "The only thing slowing us down is the speed of light." be
juxtaposed with a New York Times article titled ""In a Major Breakthrough,
Danish Physicist Slows the Speed of Light" which reported on a scientist
who had succeeded in slowing light to a paltry 38 miles per hour.

They now have a *new* banner ad out (this is for real):

"The only thing slowing us down....
          ...is the occasional group of physicists."


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October 23
September 10
From: Werner Haelg <Haelg#NoSpam.inorg.chem.ethz.ch>
A question for NMR-Freaks:
What is the meaning of the abreviation SPIN ?
S ociety for the
P rotection of
I nnocent
N uclei

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From: eridani#NoSpam.scn.org (Martha K. Koester)

New Age shops sell negative ion generators, as it is thought
by some that breathing negative ions boosts the immune
system.  I have also heard that you can save your money and
pet your cat, as rubbing it's fur has the same effect.  This
is unfortunately non-scientific, because how can a negative
ion be a cat ion?

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From: wshaw#NoSpam.gate.net (William Shaw)

When light passes from one medium to another, it obeys a set of partial
differential equations (which "optimize" the path as it were). The light
"slows down" for the amount of time it takes for it to solve the
equations. But if the light is experienced enough, it can solve the
equations faster than when it first started out.

Truly retarded light has so much trouble solving the equations
that it just gives up and bounces back into the original medium
(roughly four percent?)...

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Januari 17
April 17
From: aa387#NoSpam.cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Jim Kutz)

From a Dave Barry column.

Although we modern persons tend to take our electric lights, radios,
mixers, etc. for granted, hundreds of years ago people did not have any of
these things, which is just as well because there was no place to plug them
in. Then along came the first Electrical Pioneer, Benjamin Franklin, who
flew a kite in a lightning storm and received a serious electrical shock.
This proved that lightning was powered by the same force as carpets, but it
also damaged Franklin's brain so severely that he started speaking only in
incomprehensible maxims, such as, "A penny saved is a penny earned."
Eventually he had to be given a job running the post office.

After Franklin came a herd of Electrical Pioneers whose names have become
part of our electrical terminology: Myron Volt, Mary Louise Amp, James
Watt, Bob Transformer, etc. These pioneers conducted many important
electrical experiments. Among them, Galvani discovered (this is the truth)
that when he attached two different kinds of metal to the leg of a frog, an
electrical current developed and the frog's leg kicked, even though it was
no longer attached to the frog, which was dead anyway. Galvani's discovery
led to enormous advances in the field of amphibian medicine. Today, skilled
veterinary surgeons can take a frog that has been seriously injured or
killed, implant pieces of metal in its muscles, and watch it hop back into
the pond -- almost.

But the greatest Electrical Pioneer of them all was Thomas Edison, who was
a brilliant inventor despite the fact that he had little formal education
and lived in New Jersey. Edison's first major invention in 1877 was the
phonograph, which could soon be found in thousand of American homes, where
it basically sat until 1923, when the record was invented. But Edison's
greatest achievement came in 1879 when he invented the electric
company. Edison's design was a brilliant adaptation of the simple
electrical circuit: the electric company sends electricity through a wire
to a customer, then immediately gets the electricity back through another
wire, then (this is the brilliant part) sends it right back to the customer

This means that an electric company can sell a customer the same batch of
electricity thousands of times a day and never get caught, since very few
customers take the time to examine their electricity closely. In fact, the
last year any new electricity was generated was 1937.  Today, thanks to men
like Edison and Franklin, and frogs like Galvani's, we receive almost
unlimited benefits from electricity.  For example, in the past decade
scientists have developed the laser, an electronic appliance so powerful
that it can vaporize a bulldozer 2000 yards away, yet so precise that
doctors can use it to perform delicate operations to the human eyeball,
provided they remember to change the power setting from "Bulldozer" to

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From: Aliquotes iv.vi (journal) (rogerb#NoSpam.microsoft.com)

                    My, But That's An Attractive Lawn Mower

Scientists aren't the only ones capable of starting relationships in the
lab. Often times, in our effort to get that last result, we forget about
the feelings of the equipment which we so callously use and discard.  This
is one such story of the love between a lawn mower and an NMR-MRI imager.
Machines, yes, but machines wich couldn't bear to be separated.

The research facility had just received their new NMR-MRI System and had
been careful to inform the cleaning staff of the hazards of working around
such a piece of equipment ... the high magnetic field wreaking havoc with
any metal bearing equipment, erasing banking cards and terminating
electrical equipment.  This also includes pacemakers although you gotta
wonder how they determined that the machinery would affect pacemakers,
experiments or just a good guess.

They were even so careful as to put the magnet well towards the back wall,
away from the general working area of the facility.  Yes, they were careful
in telling the caretaking staff.  Unfortunately, no one had taken the same
care in informing the outdoor, groundskeeping staff.

Shortly after the system was set up, one of the outdoor maintenance crew
was mowing the lawn near the back wall of the facility.  Picture the
idyllic setting as the groundskeeper in wandering around the yard on a
bright summer's day.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the
blades of grass are flying around in the normal manner when cut by the
mower.  Suddenly, the mower is yanked out of the groundskeeper's hands and
is flung against the wall, suspended three feet off the ground with no
signs of support.  The surprised fellow spent quite a while trying to pry
the mower of the wall but to no avail.  It doesn't take a scientist to tell
you that this only happens on Roadrunner cartoons.  What was the poor man
going to tell his boss?

Eventually, when everyone became aware of the problem, they got their heads
together and tried to come up with a reasonable expanation for this sudden,
non-Newtonian event.  Unfortunately, someone was running an experiment at
the time and noticed the change in the field.  Following the commotion,
they discovered the problem and, using a tow truck (not a piece of
equipment which is usually issued with an MRI but we won't quibble), they
were able to pry the mower from the wall.

This wall is now surrounded at a distance by a large fence and no one cares
if the grass grows long and unruly.

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        Hamster Power: 44 ways to get electric power from hamsters

1. Stick copper and zinc electrode-needles in opposite ends of hamster. Use
in series for higher voltage. -gwh

2. Shove them back and forth in Richard Gere's butt.  Creates static

3. Go to Radio Shack and offer them the hamster in exchange for two AAA

4. Attach the hamster to a hand-crank generator and then drop it onto a

5. Ignite in large numbers. Use heat released to drive steam turbine.

6. Kidnap and threaten to torture. Extort ransom from animal-rights
activists and other anti-cruelty types: demand payment in the form of
electric current.

7. Drop hamsters from great heights. Use water-mill like turbine to
generate electricity.

8. Drop large numbers of hamsters into tar pit, wait a few million years,
drill for crude oil at same location to run electric turbine.

9. Cold Fusion -> Steam Turbine. No explanation necessary. -seano

10. Any form of neutron capture / beta emission. -seano

11. Convince hamsters they're really lemmings. Show cliff to
hamsters. Install turbine halfway down cliff.

12. Densely pack hamsters into flywheel shape. Spin rapidly. Attach

13. Put hamster on electricity-generating treadmill. Feed back small
portion of generated electricity into hamster brain pleasure center. Watch
him generate his little heart out!

14. Seal large quantity of hamsters in air tight holding tanks. Add
water. Allow suitable time to pass for decomposition. Collect methane gas
resulting. Put gas in fuel cells.

15. Smush mucho hamsters in a trough, use the drippings/blood to run a
waterwheel for hydroelectric power.

16. Give hamsters lots of shitty beer. Use piss and vomit to run
hydroelectric generator.

17. Skin hamster. Melt animal fat into tallow and then form candles. Heat
steam turbine.

18. Switch hamsters for P6 chips coming of Intel assembly lines. Saved
electricity will be enormous. Cover performance loss by releasing new
version of Windows NT at the same time. -gwh

19. Build glass room. Put hamsters inside. Put cocaine inside. Ground the
floor and attach negative leads to the ceiling. -gwh

20. Have hamster steal one of Kube's magic cards. Leech power from
resulting nuclear strike.

21. Teach hamsters to play blackjack. Once they're at the competitive
level, convince Las Vegas hotel owners to convert to serving
hamsters. Saved electricity from smaller lights, hotels, etc. -gwh

22. Accumulate enough hamsters that the self-gravitational force causes the
mass to shrink and heat up. Use thermocouples to generate energy. -gwh

23. Raid PG&E corporate headquarters. Threaten to drop hamster down CEO's
pants unless he gives you a power plant. -gwh

24. Get several dozen hamsters. Shoot them up with crystal meth. Attach dog

25. (This is, undoubtedly, the way to get the most power from them) Combine
the hamster with an equal mass of antimatter -- a anti-hamster if you
will. Then harness the massive energy release for power....

26. Have the Emperor warp and twist a hamster clone into an evil
Anti-Hamster, Darth Hamster. This should be good for 4-6 sequels. Install
tension to electricity converters into theatre. -gwh

27. a. Find a _good_ genetic engineer. b. Splice appropriate genes from
electric eels into hamsters, because they're smaller and cuter and, well,
hamsters. c.  Feed the hamsters. d. Surgically install appropriate
electrodes. e. Periodically drain off the voltage.  Unfortunately, this
only gets you DC current. P.S. How could I have been so blind? Splice in
genes from blue-green algae as well, and you wouldn't even have to feed the
hamsters! (Well, maybe some phosphorous and iron and stuff)

28. Mail the electric company a dead hamster every day until they give you
power for free.

29. Crossbreed hamster with a Mothra (a giant rodant in India) and use
resulting giant mutant lightning-breathing hamster as power source.

30. Give the hamster to Scotty, he'll find some way to yeild 20% more power
from the dilithium crystals.

31. Take thousands of hamsters into orbit -- when the orbit decays, they
will heat up the atmosphere. With enough hamsters, you could raise the
planets temperature as much as you want.

32. Pull the hamster out of root@soda's ass. Then when they turn red &
embarrassed, use the heat from their red face to drive a Carnot engine.

33. Emmass enormous quantities of hamsters until it reaches enough mass to
begin hamster fusion in the core.  Use solar cells to convert radiation to
electricity. - seano

34. Throw in more hamsters to 33 (above) until the hamster star goes
supernova... you couldn't want any more energy than that...

35. Repeat 34 with another mass of hamsters... spin the resulting
neutron-hamsters around each other in a binary orbit... use gravity waves
to rotate hydro-turbine.

36. Take five or six hits of acid. Tell yourself very firmly that hamsters
_are_ electricity. (Well, they've got lots of electrons in them, yes?)
Acquire hamsters however you choose; "operationally", you've now got
electricity. (I say "five or six hits", because I find that things which
were perfectly clear to me after _one_ hit, e.g., that the word "Krups" is
actually a make onomatopoeic piece of German slang for an unprintable
Viennese practice, make absolutely no sense afterwards; and Leary used to
take five hits or so. QED.)

37. Give them little magnetic collars, and run them through a maze of
coiled wires.

38. Reduce hamster to their component atoms. Compress the resulting plasma
until it fuses. Transfer the released energy via heat/engine or energy
conversion scheme of your choice. -ERic

39. Take two hamsters, run one through a klein bottle to convert it to
anti-matter. Combine the first hamster with the anti-hamster. Harness the
resultant massive burst of energy as per #38 above. -ERic

40. Drop hamster into black hole. Use photovoltaics to release the radiated
energy. -Eric

41. It is a well-known result of quantum field theory that all fields are
symmetric under the combined action of time-reversal, charge-conjugation
and parity-inversion operators: the familiar TCP symmetry. It is trivial to
show that time reversal and charge conjugation both take fermions into
their anti-particles. Use this to show that plucking hamsters from mirrors
will produce beaucoup electromagnetic radiation. (Hint: Do you need to pull
the hamsters out of the mirror _going_backwards_in_time_?)  Ref:
J. J. Sakurai, _Adv. Quan. Mech._

42. Put female hamster scent on glass rod. Release male hamster. He will
try to rub his furry coat against glass rod. Drawback: only creates static

From: "roon_toon" <roon_toon#NoSpam.hotmail.com>
43. Teach Hamsters how to use a Bloomberg terminal to trade OTC (Over the
counter) Electricity products.  Smarter Hamsters can be trained to risk the
lives of many dumber hamsters in a highly leveraged exotic derivative to
make profit in terms of electricity.
Note: There will be no hedge instruments against the lives of hamsters as
hamsters are plentiful and can be breeded with great ease.

44. From: "roon_toon" <roon_toon#NoSpam.hotmail.com>
I'm too sexy for my shirt,
I'm too handsome for my face,
When a hamster looks at me it combusts spontaneously,
Convert that combustion into ENERGY.
That's it pure and simple !

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September 22
A friend of mine has a theory about things electronic: they operate on
smoke. It is very important for each component to have the correct amount
of smoke, which is sealed inside at the factory. If this smoke ever gets
out, the part is no longer functional. This is true: how many times have
you ever seen an electrical or electronic device work right after smoke has
been emitted?

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From: "Simon Bone" <sbone#NoSpam.link.net.id>
contributed by caroline kalempouw
Q: mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me who is the prettiest lady in the
A: as long as there is specular reflection here, Im afraid, I have to
telling you the truth...

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Special Category: Definitions and terms
From: "Leif Wahlberg" <passerby#NoSpam.swipnet.se>
Here is an definition of "darkness" found in the OSF (Security Regulations
at Flying in the Swedish Air Force, from the 1960ths):

"-Darkness prevail when the sun is 8 degrees below the horizon" (Principal rule).

But because there are some problems to look behind the horizon, there is a complementary rule:

"-At uncertain cases, darkness is considered"

Who had guessed?

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Special Category: Definitions and terms

From: Qqqquet#NoSpam.mindspring.com (Leroy Quet)
Corrected by: mensanator#NoSpam.aol.com (Mensanator)

Light-Dog-Year : 1/7 light-years.

So, Sirius, the "dog star", is about 58.8 light-dog-years away.
And the star Wolf 359 is about 53.9 light-dog-years away.

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From: stan kegel <kegel#NoSpam.fea.net>, Puns of the weak
Special Category: Definitions and terms
What's a light-year? 
One-third less calories than a regular year. (Very Punny)

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From: "*G - P*" <G*P#NoSpam.G*P.Com>

The instructor was demonstrating the wonders of static electricity to his
class at MIT. While holding a plastic rod in one hand and a wool cloth in
the other, he told the class, "You can see that I get a large charge from
rubbing my rod..."

That was pretty much the end of learning for that day.

next:2.17 Newtons's laws and classical dynamics | Index | Comments and Contributions


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