Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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In an effort to make a point — Laptops are distracting students — University of Oklahoma physics professor Kieran Mullen freezes a student’s laptop with liquid nitrogen then smashes it onto the floor. One student caught this act of laptop brutality on video:

Read more about it: Professor shatters distracting laptop.


  1. #1 Tabor
    February 24, 2010

    So this is for real? Can he do that? I mean don’t they use this for notes? Shouldn’t their grades be the thing that is the test of what they are learning? If they want to pay for the class and then spend time surfing the net…that is their option. I guess I just don’t get it.

  2. #2 Bing
    February 24, 2010

    Look it up. It was apparently a stunt. But he’s still a dick.


  3. #3 Dave X
    February 24, 2010

    The text of the linked article says it was a non-functioning decoy laptop, planned as part of stunt:

    “It’s silly and ostentatious, but it’s memorable,” Mullen said, referring to the stunt. “I just hope it drives the point home that if you’re in class, you really need to be here.”

  4. #4 Willy
    February 24, 2010

    Hey Mullen, cram it up yer poop chute. If you can’t keep your students’ attention then perhaps the issue is your style.

    I taught chem, physics, biology, and physical science to alternative high school kids. They’re the toughest crowd. I got their attention without destroying their property (which would’ve precipitated a melee.)

    It may be Mullen’s classroom but it is their respect. Mullen has no right to it by behaving that way. I’m sure his classes went swimmingly after that demo.

  5. #5 Joseph
    February 25, 2010

    I got their attention without destroying their property (which would’ve precipitated a melee.)

    The student was a plant, and the laptop was non-functioning and donated for the purpose (the screen didn’t even turn on!)

    I’m sure his classes went swimmingly after that demo.

    Actually, they have. And “lappy the laptop” has (and will continue for the foreseeable future) to exact its occasional revenge on him in the physics problems.

    Maybe you should get a chance to know the guy before making snap judgments of him and his teaching, hey?

  6. #6 Katharine
    February 25, 2010

    Well, I thought it was funny.

    As a student who is in class to learn, I don’t care if someone is using their laptop to take notes, but if you’re using Facebook or chatting I’m going to have serious thoughts about taking your laptop and drop-kicking it out of the classroom.

  7. #7 The Ridger
    February 28, 2010

    It’s funnier than slamming the top down on their hands, right?

  8. #8 Arancaytar
    May 10, 2010

    Our professors really don’t care, but the laptop users really are annoying. It’s not like they’re taking notes or looking things up, either. All the way down the row, and the rows in front of where I sit, I can see them playing Facebook minigames. Why the hell are they even attending the lecture?

    (Still, it’s better that they feed their fish or whatever on Facebook than chatter incessantly, so I suppose the laptop has the benefit of keeping them quietly occupied. 😛 )

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