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Do Physicists drink?

  1. Jan 1, 2010 #1
    This is a problem that I have pondered over, and argued about, for years.

    Einstein of course did not drink. I have read often that he did not drink. I have heard that even during his days at the Zurich Polytechnic, he would talk to his fellow students at a bar, but never actually drink. There are a few accounts of him being drunk, for example at a party with Mileva, he wrote to Conrad Habicht of being very drunk. Still though, other than those exceptions, he chose not to drink, believing that alcohol spoiled the mind.

    I remember reading Richard Feynman's book, "Classic Feynman," (what an amazing book by the way) where he said that during a trip to South America, he was walking along the boardwalk and saw a bar. He had a sudden strong inclination to go in and have a drink, even though it was still very early in the day. He began to enter, but realized that he was experiencing the first symptoms of alcoholism. Being that Feynman did not want to do anything that damaged his brain, he decided to quit alcohol altogether.

    Still though, I remember reading an essay by Carl Sagan about his experimenting with marijuana. He seemed to like the drug, and admitted that he advocated its use, although this isn't to say exactly that he drank alcohol, because even Feynman wrote of smoking marijuana and experimenting with LSD.

    Then I remember listening to an interview of Michio Kaku on the Opie and Anthony show, and Kaku was asked how physicists celebrate new discoveries. Do they drink? Kaku answered simply by saying that Physicists do no drink, and celebrate in different ways.

    Anywho, all of this leads me to believe that there are two sides to the matter of drinking alcohol. Either people drink alcohol and do not care of the damage it causes to their brain, or people do not drink in fear of that damage being caused. The general consensus seems to be that certain occupations that rely on their brains are weary of alcohol.

    What about you guys? Do you drink? Are you afraid of the risks? Sorry if this entire topic is too silly for some of you, as I was a bit doubtful about posting it myself.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
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  3. Jan 1, 2010 #2


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    I am almost 21 (will be at the end of this month), and to be honest I'm not looking forward to not having that excuse any more. I could always just say I'm not 21.
    Even if I go to a party, I don't drink, and I don't want to.

    It probably does have something to do with me wanting to keep my brain as healthy as I can... but also, I just really truly don't see what the point is to drinking.
    I can't ask anyone because it would sound lame, so maybe someone here could help me out even. Beer/wine/champagne do not taste good to me at all, do they taste good to other people, am I just weird?
    Or is the only reason that anyone else drinks for purely social reasons, at least at first until they develop a liking for alcohol?
  4. Jan 1, 2010 #3


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    Any person who truly loves life and the universe will enjoy a few drinks. Otherwise you are not a true physicist. You are a pathetic nerd! I just had a few and all the physics is really starting to shine and I appreciate life that much more.
  5. Jan 1, 2010 #4


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    some do, some don't.

    I think brain damage is a result of abuse, not use.
  6. Jan 1, 2010 #5
    What an odd question.

    Physicists aren't some odd species that are seperate from humans. We ar eall human, therefore some will drink and others won't.

    Do Physicists X? Is a question I see often on these forums. I just find it really really odd, you can't lump people together like that.

    It's also a very American thing that people are paranoid of the dangers of alcohol. What is it about the culture over there that drinking is seen as something to be shocked about? The concpet of 'another round' shocked the hell out of a bunch of US students who were on exchange when I was at university.

    As an asside alcohol is acutally good for you when taken in moderation. If you get hammered constantly you'll pickle your brain.

    And Oddbio, don't lie or make excuses to not drink. Just state that you really don't enjoy it, that should all people need to know. Theres nothing wrong with not liking alcohol.
  7. Jan 1, 2010 #6
  8. Jan 1, 2010 #7
    You beat me while I was searching physicists for like 10 minutes :)
  9. Jan 1, 2010 #8
    This is my school of thought as well.

    My mom made me watch some documentary on how alcohol destroys the brain a long time ago. So the thought always lingers.

    Thankfully I love cheap beer and being in Utah it's a low percent so hopefully I don't lose too many brain cells. It's always on the back of mind though. :frown:
  10. Jan 1, 2010 #9


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    :rofl: Well, of course you're all some odd species. :biggrin: :rofl:

    I'm puzzled by what the OP wrote. Einstein didn't drink, but he was seen drunk? Um...I think there's a problem with that logic.
  11. Jan 1, 2010 #10


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    Seems pretty straight forward. He was bipolar. One side was patent office working cousin-dating side, the other was a fun theoretical physicist who enjoyed drinking and debauchery.
  12. Jan 1, 2010 #11

    Never think about that, don't really care if it takes x amount of brain cells.

    Life is for living. Do I really care if i've got 10% less brain calls at the time of retirement...? not really no. The way people talk about it, you'd think it was like getting a lobotomy.
  13. Jan 1, 2010 #12


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    Wow, a kindred spirit! You and I should meet up sometime, I'll buy you a... oh wait :rofl:

    You may or may not be weird (I think just being into physics makes us all a little weird), but you're certainly not alone. I can't stand the taste or smell of ethanol either. As far as others, I've heard a few people say that they didn't particularly like beer at first, but they eventually developed a taste for it; I'm not sure whether that applies to everybody or if there are some people who actually, honestly like the stuff. Pretty much everyone I know has been drinking long enough to become desensitized to it. Especially the physicists, actually... it seems like the higher I go in physics (currently up to 2nd year of grad school), the more addicted people are to beer. (At some point between that and professorship, I guess it shifts over to wine)

    For what it's worth, you need the under-21 excuse to hide behind. Not liking the taste of alcohol should be reason enough not to drink it; that's what I would tell people even before I turned 21.
  14. Jan 1, 2010 #13


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    It has nothing to do with being a physicist. I know people who are biologists, lawyers, writers, etc., who just don't like the taste of alcohol, so don't drink. I know physicists who do enjoy a good beer or nice glass of wine too (where has Gokul gone? :uhh:).

    If you don't like it, don't drink it, and don't let anyone force you into drinking it just to "fit in." Likewise, if you enjoy it, go ahead and have a drink or two and don't let anyone tell you you shouldn't just because THEY don't like it. Everything in moderation is all one needs to remember.
  15. Jan 2, 2010 #14
    I have a feeling that the brain damage caused by the occasional drink is far less significant than that caused by pounding one's head against the desk while working on physics problems, or reading some of the posts on this forum for that matter :D
  16. Jan 2, 2010 #15
    Alcohol has been tested practically for quite a while. That a substance is natural makes no guarantee that it is safe.

    In the United States alcohol causes the greatest monetary toll of any drug. For those who are alcoholics, the first drink was probably pleasureful, but soon pleasure became an elusive spirit.

    If you feel like you must take a drug, see a scientist like a psychiatrist for appropriate and effective alternatives. (Physicists are probably more concerned about drunk driving and other kinetic "accidents" than losing brain cells from moderate drinking.)
  17. Jan 2, 2010 #16
    I'm 27, and I don't drink. Never really have... I had a half a glass of wine when I was 18 at a family gathering. I had one shot of peach schnapps when I was 16 at Christmas. Didn't really like either of them. Of course I should note that I'm not a physicist, just a 2nd year physics student.

    There are several reasons I don't drink:

    1) I'm happy with how my mind works as it is, and I don't think I'd like that altered. If it's not broke, don't fix it, you know?

    b...2) I don't think I'd know when to stop. I get addicted to things easily, whether it's an MMORPG, or playing online poker, I have trouble stopping. My father is an alcoholic, my mother is addicted to gambling... and I think that might be hereditary.

    3 or c) Alcohol is expensive. When I go to a bar, I get a 2 dollar soda, and free refills all night. My friends leave 40 dollars poorer. That gives me more keno money (there goes the gambling thing again.)

    4, d, or iv) I kinda like the looks on peoples faces when I tell them I don't drink.

    I've never really had a problem with having to come up with excuses with friends. Just tell them you don't drink, and most people say "wow, good for you." The people that ask why are usually happy when I just tell them any one of the above reasons. I don't feel it has hurt my social life any, except with douchebags I wouldn't want to associate with anyway. It's a handy screen to have.

    Jim Gaffigan has a good bit about that. It starts at 1 minute into this video:

    http://comedians.jokes.com/jim-gaffigan/videos/jim-gaffigan---people-who-don-t-drink [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  18. Jan 2, 2010 #17
    I've never had the desire to drink or get drunk. Even at parties or hanging out with friends when I was younger, I was the only one not drinking or doing any drugs. Kids think that they'll be ostracized for not following along and doing drugs like everyone else, but it's just the opposite. If you have the guts to be different, that will elicit more respect than just being another sheep following the herd.
    Just as long as you make it clear you're also not a snitch.

    My sister is a year older than me and she used to do all that stuff. I'm no physicist, but I was smart enough to learn from her mistakes when she wasn't.
  19. Jan 2, 2010 #18


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    So, by your reasoning, if one enjoys a drink then they are a "sheep"? Do you like steak, or do you eat potatoes? If so, then you're clearly a sheep following the herd. Maybe you should start eating rocks if you want to be different.

    Seriously, I don't believe your implications that everyone who drinks is some sort of crazy party animal set on destroying their lives. Sure, such people exist, but they are in the minority. I know a lot of people who, whilst at college for example, drank quite heavily, but they are now incredibly successful people. They haven't destroyed their lives, or made mistakes that righteous people should have "learned from".

    The bottom line is that everything, in excess, is bad for you, but in moderation alcohol is not going to destroy someone's life! Pontificating will not change that.
  20. Jan 2, 2010 #19
    Depends on the reasons, if they are not drinking because they don't like it, then that's fair enough. It shows a strength of character. If they are not drinking specifically to be different from he crowd, then that is just sad.
  21. Jan 2, 2010 #20
    I drink. Lots. I enjoy it. I also enjoy having sex with a lot of girls.

    At the end of the day I am a student at a large university...feel my drift?
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