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Februari 6
From: "Thomas P. Koch" <tom_koch#NoSpam.email.msn.com>
I was in a Summer Organic Laboratory class.  The instructor had just
finished warnings about phosgene and hydrogen cyanide gasses and why they
were so dangerous.  It seems that the threshold at which you were able to
smell the gas was above the toxic threshold.  He had said that phosgene
smelled like freshly mowed hay and cyanide smelled like almonds (how he
knew this I never found out, unless that last gasp of a dying chemist was
what the gas smelled like).

Anyway, back to the story.  We had an old bottle of phosgene gas in the
fume hood, it had been there several semesters.  One summer afternoon, I
was completing a typical recrystallization when all of a sudden I smelled
"freshly mown hay".  All of a sudden I thought I was a goner, remembering
the cannister of phosgene and the characteristic smell description.
Fortunately, during my panic I heard the sound of the lawn mower outside
the window of the chemistry building.

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From: tlanda#NoSpam.nwu.edu (Anthony S. Landa)

The following is an excerpt from my physics lab book.  Needless
to say, it was a long day in the lab.

Errors in our Calculations:

  ...Clearly, friction played a large role in our >75%<< error
in our calculations, but the force of friction alone cannot
affect much more than 5% of the experimental results.  After
pondering other things that might have also affected the
experiment, I came up with a couple things:

 1) Measurement of pi.  We only used pi to 2 decimal places (3.14157
would have given more accurate results)

 2) The moon's gravitational effect.  We didn't take into effect the
gravitational effect of the moon orbiting the earth.  If it can cause
tides, it can affect our experiment.

 3) The book is wrong.  Who knows?  Newton lived a long time ago,
before the Internet, and before highly sensitive electrical equipment.
Perhaps all the equations we used are outdated and inaccurate.  I will
write a letter to the publisher immediately when I can confirm this.

 4) Gravitational pull caused by us.  My lab partner and I both exert
a very tiny, but significant, gravitational attraction.  This could
have effected the pendulum in many ways, especially since we were
moving around a lot.

 5) Inaccurate measurement of weight.  We never actually weighed the
pendulum.  We just used the value in the book.

 6) Accumulation of dust.  During the course of the experiment, I
noticed dust accumulating on the bob of the pendulum.  Oh, wait,
frequency of a pendulum has nothing to do with mass.  Forget 5 and 6.

Well, seriously, these other potential pitfalls are still very
insignificant, so that leaves me with only one conclusion:

  My lab partner screwed up.

I take no responsibility for these errors, because I put faith in my
lab partner that he would solve the equations accurately.  In the
past, we have experienced problems with his inability to punch numbers
into his calculator in the correct order.  I also noticed him
furtively peeking over on the other lab tables.  Pardon my frankness,
but this guy is not very bright, and I don't know how I got stuck with
him.  I probably should just double check his work, but I'm sure he
would be insulted and create a scene.  I've had problems with him
in the past, and if the sole vindicator of our inaccurate lab data is,
in fact, my lab partner, this would explain the last three labs,
which, as you may recall, had errors similar in scope.

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From: Ian Ellis <ian#NoSpam.iglou.com>
Seen on the door to a light-wave lab:
"Do not look into laser with remaining good eye."

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From: randy#NoSpam.aplcorejhuapl.edu (Randall C. Poe)

Here's a joke on the physicists which could be an absolutely true story
in my opinion:

    The experimentalist comes running excitedly into the theorist's office,
waving a graph taken off his latest experiment.  "Hmmm," says the theorist,
"That's exactly where you'd expect to see that peak.  Here's the reason
(long logical explanation follows)."  In the middle of it, the experimentalist
says "Wait a minute", studies the chart for a second, and says, "Oops, this
is upside down."  He fixes it.  "Hmmm," says the theorist, "you'd expect
to see a dip in exactly that position.  Here's the reason...".

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Numerical physicist might have the Monte Carlo method, other physicists use
the Monte Christo method:
Dig at a problem for years, and then solve it in a completely different way.

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December 20
Januari 16
From : tomas_thefox2003#NoSpam.yahoo.ie (Tomas Fuchsbauer)
How Physics in the wrong hands can assist in breaking up relationships, and
the wonders of 'extreme static electricity...’

This one is from a Physics lecture during my last year of High-School,
whilst preparing for the Irish Leaving Certificate’ (back in Dublin, EIRE,
during 1984/85). I have taken the liberty to elaborate on the details in
order to make it a more entertaining read, but without altering the main

Apparently there was this guy who wanted to impress his new girlfriend, so
he took her into the Physics lab during lunch-break (please don’t ask me
how he managed to get access). The story goes that he decided his
relationship would get 'an immense charge’ through demonstration of the
resident "van de Graaf" generator. So he turned down the lights, powered
the thing up and got out a cylindrical metallic object (most likely a
ball-point pen), holding it a short distance from the spherical dome. Her
reaction was no doubt quite one of intrigue when she initially witnessed
the static electric 'lightning’ that jumped from the contraption to the
pen, and even more so when her new hairstyle took on electric proportions
shortly thereafter.

He had the insulating rubber mat beneath his feet -
she obviously did not... 

...well that was the end of that relationship...!!

next:2.20 strange but real findings | Index | Comments and Contributions


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