The Quantum Pontiff

Physics Based License Plates

Via Zz, a link to Symmetry Breaking’s list of physics based license plates.

Sweet I’ll have to submit my old California plates:
If there is one thing I will regret in life it is that I missed one of the most “terrifiq” opportunities of all time. While I was at the Santa Fe Institute, I had my QUBITS plates and sometimes would park beside Murray Gell-Mann’s car which had a QUARKS license place. At one point Ben Schumacher, who invented the word “qubit”, visited the Santa Fe Institute. Damnit that was my opportunity to get a picture of two people who invented words in the dictionary starting with a “q” beside two cars with those words as license plates! Drats, that would have been priceless.

(For quantum computing people make sure you ask Andrew Landahl what his license plate is next time you see him.)


  1. #1 NJ
    December 10, 2008

    My NC plates read 2DSNTHTA. Unfortunately VA cuts theirs off one character short…

  2. #2 Andrew Landahl
    December 10, 2008

    Okay, I’ll take the bait. My license plates haven’t really been quantum-computing based but rather physics/math ways of expressing the concept of acceleration. (Having a license plate with something like “SPEEDY” that a cop can understand probably isn’t such a wise idea.) My license plates were/are: “F OVER M” (VA) and “D2X DT2” (NM). It cost too much on my limited grad-student budget to get a personalized license plate in CA; VA and NM personalized plates are much cheaper.

    It’s too bad they don’t allow subscripts on license plates or my current plate would be much easier to understand. Of course a solidus would make both license plates even clearer. What a great opportunity to egregiously use the word solidus!

  3. #3 Bee
    December 10, 2008

    I had an Arizona plate with LXD (Large eXtra Dimensions – topic of my PhD thesis) and I have a friend (North Carolina) who has URQMD (Ultra Relativistic Quantum Molecular Dynamics)

  4. #4 Dave Bacon
    December 10, 2008

    Bee: did anyone ever mistake LXD for LSD? I’m surprised this got past the “censors” at the department of motor vehicles 🙂

  5. #5 Ian Durham
    December 10, 2008

    I saw one in the DC area once that read “E2THEPI” and I sort of borrowed that for a ‘virtual’ Porsche I have and changed it to “E2THEIPI” instead (which could more succinctly have been written as…)

  6. #6 Ian Durham
    December 10, 2008

    Oh, and I used to work with a woman at NASA whose plates read “ABELIAN” (Maryland plates).

  7. #7 Andrew Landahl
    December 10, 2008

    Er, I meant “superscripts” not “subscripts” on my post; mea culpa.

    I saw a clever science-related license plate once that simply said “RINGS OF”. The clever bit is that the logo for the car make is placed prominently right below the plate by default. You guessed it—it was a Saturn.

    This suggests a possible route around the censors—simply make the plate the middle portion of a word or phrase that’s objectionable and add the missing letters outside the plate boundary.

  8. #8 Dave Bacon
    December 10, 2008

    Andrew: There is a very famous example of this method which was around when I was an undergrad at Caltech. But this is a family blog, so I’d best not repeat it here.

  9. #9 Kurt
    December 11, 2008

    Okay, I can’t resist: my Ohio and Florida plates.

  10. #10 Pieter Kok
    December 11, 2008

    My wife joked years ago that our license plate should say “Doc Kok”. Apparently it was not censored (we checked the website). I decided against it, because people may have thought I worked in the Valley, being Dutch and all…

  11. #11 Ian Durham
    December 11, 2008

    Oh, come on people, I know it’s stupid, but I know for a fact it’s no worse than many a pun the Pontiff has told (not to mention some his father has apparently told, according to his stories). E2THEIPI is … ???

  12. #12 Joe Fitzsimons
    December 12, 2008


    But surely the license plate 1 is much more sought after. You should have gone with E2THE0, or some variant. ACOSCOS0?

  13. #13 Joe Fitzsimons
    December 12, 2008

    Obviously the latter gives 0 rather than 1.

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