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Dumbest thing a professor ever told you

  1. Aug 29, 2013 #1


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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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 31, 2013 #2
    E=mc^3...'nuff said.
  4. Aug 31, 2013 #3


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    "Dumbest thing a student ever told you" would make a much better thread in my opinion.
  5. Aug 31, 2013 #4
    "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.
  6. Aug 31, 2013 #5


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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:
  7. Aug 31, 2013 #6
    the actual saying is,
    " there's no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid people "
  8. Aug 31, 2013 #7


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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.
  9. Aug 31, 2013 #8


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    In the words of one of my colleagues:

  10. Aug 31, 2013 #9
    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.
  11. Aug 31, 2013 #10


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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
  12. Aug 31, 2013 #11
    Was it a deep potential well?
  13. Sep 1, 2013 #12
    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.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  14. Sep 1, 2013 #13


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    :rofl: Office Shredder, you made my day, I needed a good laugh, thanks!
  15. Sep 7, 2013 #14


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    A hole is something in the ground. I think you mean 'whole' point.
  16. Sep 8, 2013 #15

    A hole is actually an abbreviation for a curse word.
  17. Sep 8, 2013 #16


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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. Sep 9, 2013 #17


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  19. Sep 10, 2013 #18
    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!".
  20. Sep 10, 2013 #19
    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.

    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
  21. Sep 10, 2013 #20


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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.
  22. Sep 10, 2013 #21


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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.
  23. Sep 16, 2013 #22


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    Perhaps she was illustrating the idea that between particles there is a binding force? This is not a readily apparent assumption.
  24. Sep 17, 2013 #23


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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:
  25. Sep 17, 2013 #24


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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...
  26. Sep 17, 2013 #25
    "No your completely wrong, density is nothing like porousness..." "so than whats the difference?" "Ones dense and the other is porous"
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