Dumbest thing a professor ever told you

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  • #1
DrClaude
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A comment on another thread about people with PhDs saying dumb things reminded me of somthing a professor once told the class when I was a student. I thought of sharing it with you, in the hope that some of you also have interesting stories to share.

In an organic chemistry course, the professor was discussing proton NMR, as 1H NMR is commonly called for obvious reasons. One student asked why the protons in other nuclei in the molecule would not also show up on the spectrum (*), the prof answered "because in other nuclei, there are positrons, not protons."

(*) For those who don't know how NMR works: you basically induce spin flips in the nuclei, such that it is the total spin of the nucleus that is important. Most nuclei have spin 0, so you can't do NMR with them, and others resonate at completely different frequencies, so you only see one element at a time in any case.
 

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  • #2
Enigman
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E=mc^3...'nuff said.
 
  • #3
Intrastellar
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"Dumbest thing a student ever told you" would make a much better thread in my opinion.
 
  • #4
bp_psy
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"Ignore all that nonsense only this result maters" . The nonsense being a couple of boards of dense, confusing and illogical derivations that did not even come close to the result. The derivation was of course very clearly worked in the textbook.
 
  • #5
Dembadon
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"There's no such thing as a stupid question."

Many professors say this and I vehemently disagree. There certainly ARE stupid questions and they've been asked every single semester in every course I've ever taken.

Example of one such stupid question: "Can we use calculators on the exams?" When the syllabus clearly states that calculators are prohibited during exams. :grumpy:
 
  • #6
krash661
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"There's no such thing as a stupid question."
the actual saying is,
" there's no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid people "
 
  • #7
DrClaude
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"Dumbest thing a student ever told you" would make a much better thread in my opinion.
I disagree. The hole point of me starting this thread is to hear about silliness from people who should know better. Dumb things student say are a dime a dozen.
 
  • #8
DrClaude
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the actual saying is,
" there's no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid people "
In the words of one of my colleagues:

You can never underestimate the students.
 
  • #9
Aero51
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Well, this one time, for my solid mechanics class. Our professor was discussing how to solve a certain class of problems and he proceeded to write:
"S&M Tips" - google this

On the chalk board

Only did he realize, after about 15 minutes of students laughing, what he did and screamed "Sweet Jesus!!!"

S&M tips was quickly replaced with "shear and bending moment tips" ;)

And on an even funnier note. One of my good friends, who lets just say was not very experience with female relations, thought S&M meant:
"Seduction and Manipulation"

I cant talk about it without laughing to this day.
 
  • #10
Office_Shredder
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I can't remember anything about the context anymore, but I once drew a diagram on the board, realized I basically just drew a giant penis, and decided to cover my tracks by saying "actually I don't think we need a picture for this" and quickly erasing it
 
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  • #11
bp_psy
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I can't remember anything about the context anymore, but I once drew a diagram on the board, realized I basically just drew a giant penis, and decided to cover my tracks by saying "actually I don't think we need a picture for this" and quickly erasing it

Was it a deep potential well?
 
  • #12
Enigman
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A student once asked why atoms are stable and electron don't fall into the nucleus.
The prof. said he knew why atoms are unstable according to classical physics and why it is stable is not in the syllabus. Course was called Modern Physics. Story doesn't end here though, another student suggested a theory that as electrons of one electron emits a photon another absorbs it and this leads to overall stability... The prof. seemed convinced.
That class got me confused whether I should be suicidal or homicidal.
 
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  • #13
DennisN
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I can't remember anything about the context anymore, but I once drew a diagram on the board, realized I basically just drew a giant penis, and decided to cover my tracks by saying "actually I don't think we need a picture for this" and quickly erasing it

:rofl: Office Shredder, you made my day, I needed a good laugh, thanks!
 
  • #14
SteamKing
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I disagree. The hole point of me starting this thread is to hear about silliness from people who should know better. Dumb things student say are a dime a dozen.

A hole is something in the ground. I think you mean 'whole' point.
 
  • #15
Aero51
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A hole is something in the ground. I think you mean 'whole' point.


A hole is actually an abbreviation for a curse word.
 
  • #16
UltrafastPED
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My stat mech teacher didn't know the names of the Greek letters - so he called xi "the wiggly worm"!

One day he decided to share a story about a recent trip to Greece: when they arrived at the airport he noticed Greek letters everywhere and told his wife "they must love statistical mechanics here"!

We all laughed, especially the Greek grad student in the back. :-)
 
  • #18
Zarqon
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I had a professor once who taught programming, think it was Java. He was under the impression that we thought it was very difficult and he was also very enthusiastic about it. So once during a lecture when he was really into it, he burst out "I know this is really difficult for you so I'm trying to compensate it by speaking louder!".
 
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  • #19
SW VandeCarr
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When I was in grade school, we were playing some word game and I answered "Yazoo". The teacher said there was no such place as "Yazoo". I showed her in an atlas that there was a county in Mississippi (US) with that name. She disallowed it because it was a "stupid" name.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazoo_City,_Mississippi
 
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  • #20
HayleySarg
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It wasn't a college prof, but I once had a biology teacher in OK insist that Turtles are amphibians. She even sent me to the principal's office for arguing. My dad proudly took me home that night and wrote quite the lengthy letter, and had his brother (a professor of biology) send her a letter also.

I hope she still doesn't believe turtles are amphibians.
 
  • #21
fluidistic
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My 3rd grade prof (I was 8-9 years old) taught us that the surface tension of water was due to the same force that the force the Moon that "attracts" the sea water. In other words she taught us that molecular forces were gravity.
I believed her... for years.
 
  • #22
Mk
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My 3rd grade prof (I was 8-9 years old) taught us that the surface tension of water was due to the same force that the force the Moon that "attracts" the sea water. In other words she taught us that molecular forces were gravity.
I believed her... for years.
Perhaps she was illustrating the idea that between particles there is a binding force? This is not a readily apparent assumption.
 
  • #23
strangerep
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In year 4 (primary school), the elderly female teacher posed a test question about which way does the Earth rotate: East-to-West or West-to-East. The entire class except me and one of the girls answered East-to-West and the teacher marked them correct because "the Sun travels overhead East-to-West". :cry:

I was quite indignant, but didn't say anything. But the girl then looked up some geography textbook or atlas which said "West-to-East". So the teacher had to adjust the marks of the entire class for that test. The worst part is that the teacher became annoyed at having to do so, telling the girl "oh, it's such a pest that you found that!" :eek:

That teacher is probably the only one I've ever had who genuinely deserves the description "silly old bat". :grumpy:
 
  • #24
Ibix
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We had a professor tell us categorically that magnetic monopoles do not exist, and the people developing theories that include them are delusional. We asked what he based that on. He said that Maxwell's third equation prohibits magnetic monopoles. We shut up.

The first line in the derivation of Maxwell's third equation from Gauss' Theorem is "assuming that there are no magnetic monopoles...". This guy was delivering the course on classical electrodynamics...
 
  • #25
bykerboy011
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"No your completely wrong, density is nothing like porousness..." "so than whats the difference?" "Ones dense and the other is porous"
 
  • #26
lisab
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A lot of the posts here make me wonder if the prof was in on the joke :wink:.

The funniest one I can think of is something one of my mother's professors told her many years ago when she was a student, studying education. She was taking a class on teaching developmentally disabled kids. The prof was very, very old, and was starting to lose it, unfortunately. My mother asked the prof, "Why does the risk of Down's Syndrome increase with the mother's age?" The prof said, "The fallopian tube in older women is rough and bumpy, and as the egg bounces down the tube, it gets bruised and scrambled."

Scrambled eggs. Riiiight.
 
  • #27
lendav_rott
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I was eating as I was reading that.. :s Luckily wasn't eating eggs.

Haven't recalled any fundamentally Stupid things said by my lectors/profs - I do recall a minor mistake when we were doing some kind of an assignment in math and the prof was saying something like:
"..and to get the perimeter of this quadrangle we add all of its 3 sides together.." :D
 
  • #28
1MileCrash
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"You can't prove that something doesn't exist, it's just like Schrödinger's cat."

Philosophy professor
 
  • #29
sgstudent
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My Professor said that you could directly convert temperature using the change in x=change in y conversion units if it was a /T as the divide sign signified "change in" temperature.
 
  • #30
S_Happens
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I'm not sure about plain ol' dumb or incorrect statements, but the main one that comes to mind was about two years ago in my Dynamics course.

The professor was deriving Kepler's 2nd Law and made a mistake in his implicit differentiation. When a student in the back asked about the mistake, instead of even looking to see if there was an actual mistake, the professor went on a 5-10 minute tirade accusing the student of calling Newton (calculus) and Kepler wrong. He paced back and forth in front of his mistake, berating until the student offered to discuss it after class. At the beginning of the next class, he admitted his mistake.

He put that derivation on the first exam, and practically noone got it correct. He was a terrible professor, as far as attitude towards students, covering extensively the trivial material, and hand waving the difficult/important material. Luckily I took it as an opportunity to become completely self sufficient as far as learning a subject and have been successful ever since.
 
  • #31
Mandelbroth
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I can't remember anything about the context anymore, but I once drew a diagram on the board, realized I basically just drew a giant penis, and decided to cover my tracks by saying "actually I don't think we need a picture for this" and quickly erasing it
When I was in eighth grade, I attempted to demonstrate the idea of the Mandelbrot set (Fractal geometry, in my opinion at the time, was "not covered extensively enough.") to my geometry class. I quickly realized that a hand drawn version looks a lot like a hairy penis. It was certainly an awkward moment. :rofl:

My stat mech teacher didn't know the names of the Greek letters - so he called xi "the wiggly worm"!
I love calligraphy, so I can't quite relate to this, but...this.

It wasn't a college prof, but I once had a biology teacher in OK insist that Turtles are amphibians. She even sent me to the principal's office for arguing. My dad proudly took me home that night and wrote quite the lengthy letter, and had his brother (a professor of biology) send her a letter also.
You should be proud. It's rather obvious that a turtle is a mammal. :tongue:
 

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