How to Teach Physics to Your Dog in the South

I am in Alabama at the moment, the temporary owner of a ginormous Ford SUV and a hotel room that even I think is a little more air-conditioned than strictly necessary. Which means that it's time for the How to Teach Physics to Your Dog mini-tour of the Southland. On Wednesday, I'll be driving to and speaking at Berry College at 8pm, then on Thursday, I'll be driving across Alabama to speak at the University thereof at 7:30.

If you're within striking distance of either of those places, come on by and see the talk-- I've got an all-new public lecture for this trip, and I promise it will be entertaining. Whether because the talk will blow you away with its brilliance or because it will flop spectacularly remains to be seen by whoever makes it to the talks.

So, if you're in the Alabama/ Georgia area, and want to see me flying without a net, here's your chance.

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And here I thought "the Southland" only referred to Los Angeles and its environs.

Y'all would say that coming here during a cold snap. A month ago when we were cracking 100 degF that air conditioning was considerably less than too much. Enjoy the zone of calm and rationalism that is Gallilee Hall; such civility and culture are rare on the Capstone.

Enjoy Berry College. Good thing you aren't going there on the weekend. I think the whole college is closed on Sunday.

(This joke pertains to the fact that Truett Cathy is a major benefactor for the college. You, as a Yankee, may not know that Truett Cathy is the founder of the Chick-fil-a restaurant chain which is not open on Sundays. One stipulation of Truett Cathy's donations is that the school cannot participate in violent sports, such as football... although they do have lacrosse.)

I had noticed the lack of football at Berry (for reasons that will become clear when I post the public talk slides later), which struck me as surprising given its location in the heart of the Football Belt. That's an interesting explanation.

One of these days, I should do a "Weird academic practices traced to odd donor stipulations" post...

SCP@3: Chad doesn't specify whether his hotel room has a thermostat, but the one where I stayed on my last trip down south (at about the same time of year--I was there in early October that year) did. The hotel's policy was to set that thermostat to 60F. I figured out how to adjust my thermostat and raised the setting to 68F--a bit cooler than I find AC necessary, but not as ridiculous (I can't think of a good reason to keep it lower than the low 70s, and that is living in a place where you would need to set it that low to keep it running overnight). During the day the cleaning staff would set it back to 60F.

I live in New Hampshire, where most people who aren't desperately poor have turned on the furnace by the beginning of October (and where many houses, mine included, have no AC). I normally set my thermostat to 65F, which is probably colder than your preference, but warmer than the preferred AC setting in that hotel. It is illegal in New Hampshire for a landlord to fail to provide a heating system that can maintain an average indoor temperature of at least 65F, and the tenant is allowed to withhold rent if the landlord does not comply. Thus, if that hotel had been in New Hampshire rather than Tennessee, management would have been breaking the law.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 29 Sep 2010 #permalink

I would like to thank you Dr. Chad Orzel for coming to Berry College and eloquently speaking twice. I attended both your seminar on CLEAN (the one with "Doomsday Device") and your more popular (VERY popular) talk on the dual nature of matter and other quantum mechanical effects. You actually answered by question on dxdp>h/2pi and dEdt>h/2pi which I had never thought of why those pairs existed as they did until I was them on one of your slides. Anyway, I would like to thank you again for your lectures, the second one being the most popular one that I have attended here...

By Milo Taylor (not verified) on 29 Sep 2010 #permalink

Thank you for giving your talk last night. It was very enjoyable. I missed Emmy but I guess we can't get everything. By the way, you don't look nearly so freakishly tall in person as you do in pictures with Kate and/or Steelykid.

One question about wave-particle duality I forgot to ask last night - if you somehow managed to pass a dog (or other moderately sized/mass, preferably inanimate, object) through an appropriately small (i.e. infinitesimally narrow) pair of slits would the resulting spatter have a diffraction pattern?

By marciepooh (not verified) on 01 Oct 2010 #permalink

Chad, the students in my intro physics class at Berry said they really enjoyed the public talk. You ruffled some feathers with the cracks about biology (e.g., Schrodinger "sleeping in the gutter" in the last part of his career), but in the end they forgave you since the talk was a lot of fun. Thanks again for coming to Berry -- I hope it all went well in Tuscaloosa as well!

andre3000@4: Berry is open on the weekends, but your point about Truett Cathy is well-taken. The whole college gets discounts at Chick-Fil-A on Tuesdays!

eric lund@6: Several officemates of mine at Florida State a few years ago had space heaters under their desks during the middle of the summer because of the AC in the building. Ok, there were quite of few computers in the building, but the level of AC was still out of control.


By Daniel Robb (not verified) on 01 Oct 2010 #permalink