The Quantum Angler
He never gets Bohred of fishing.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The folly of fried chicken

Whilst busy pondering the intricacies of atmospheric dynamics the other day, the most unexpected of propositions was put forward to me. "Fancy a bucket of chicken?" or words to this effect interrupted my meteorological musings. Initial reactions to this were less than enthusiastic. I had been going through a period of comparatively low chicken requirements; indeed my chicken needs were certainly nowhere near the 1 bucket level. Dismissing the proposal outright, I tucked back into my text on Rossby waves.

It was only when a fellow physicist sat down near me to consume a mouth-watering chicken-based snack treat that my need for fried chicken began to rise. Enquiring once more I discovered that by participating in the chicken-share deal, I would have access to half a bucket of chicken along with fries, cola, and two side orders, all for £5. As any economist will tell you, this is what is known as a bargain. As it turned out, seven hungry physicists were to share in this feathered feast; a lot of chicken would be consumed.

Half an hour later we returned with our finger-lickin' banquet. Three buckets of deep-fried chicken parts and other cholesterol-based foodstuffs awaited consumption by a slavering mob of undergraduate physicists. Needless to say, what followed was not pleasant. Particle physicists collided chips with dip, quantum opticians absorbed the fried chicken legs, while meteorologists adiabatically devoured the wings.

Yet despite the culinary chaos, there was a subtle irony. Though we had resorted to feeding in the most animal manner, the conversation reminded us that we were better. Whimsical speculation on the chicken-and-egg debate turned into a thorough discussion about the nature of evolution. One member of the group even shared a particularly drole joke about general relatively, that I'm sure we will all remember.

Afterwards the scene resembled the aftermath of a bloody battle between chicken and fries, of which there had been no winner. A feeling of general malcontent and told-you-so-ishness engulfed me as I came to realise the sheer volume of greasy fat and bird I had consumed. It must be said; it left me in a fowl mood.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hair chronicles III

The day of judgement is upon me

It would seem the time has come when I must make an epic choice, one that will shape the very foundations of my coiffureal destiny. For you see, my hair is now sufficiently long that towel-drying has become painstakingly ineffective. Coupounded by my early-morning laziness, this results in annyoing, damp hair for the duration of the morning. But I am not alone. Millions of people every day face the same problem, and for them mankind has produced a simple yet effective solution - the hairdryer.

On the face of it the dilemma would appear resolved. "By a hairdryer you lazy, stingy sod!" I hear you cry. But all is not so black-and-white. Yes, I am a lazy sod, and yes, I am about as stingy as Scrooge in Disneyland. But the real reason I hesitate to buy a hairdryer is psychological. The purchase of a hairdryer would signal a point of no return for the hair. I would officially have sissy hair, and all the repercussions associated with it. What's more, there would be an added incentive to keep the hair, for to cut it would be a waste of the money spent on the hairdryer (remember the stinginess I mentioned).

So in short, I must decide soon. Should it stay or should it go?

Other hair news

In other hair-related news, a growing bloc of housemates have begun campaining that I dress up as a schoolgirl for an upcoming 'sexual fantasies' themed fancy-dress party. The obvious implication hair-wise is that my mid-length hair would be perfect for constructing pigtails - a necessary ingredient in any schoolgirl fantasy, er so I'm told. It looks like I have two options: to not dress up as a woman, or to not dress up as a woman whilst vigorously protesting my right not to do so in order to foster an aura of manliness.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Supervisor: You're Fired!

In a dramatic finale to the hit TV show The Supervisor, a laser scientist from Imperial College has beaten a UCL antimatter professor to win the right to supervise Simon Chard in his PhD. More than 5 million tuned in to watch the UCL professor hear the immortal words "you're fired!".

In The Supervisor, contestants had to battle it out in a series of gruelling tasks designed to find out which supervisor was the friendliest, most helpful and had the best project. One highlight of the show was a task which saw contestants plied with alcohol, then evaluated to see who was the most interesting when drunk. The eventual winner, a suitably intoxicated Imperial professor regailed TV viewers with a flawless rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. The episode then ended with the firing of a Cambridge professor who started a long and drunken argument with Simon about how Cambridge was better than Imperial.

Throughout the series, the winning contestant skillfully played on his previous experience at working for Simon as his Masters' supervisor. Explaining his decision, Simon praised him as a "cool" supervisor, who had a "badass project" that was too good to resist.

Following the success of the show, the BBC and Simon already have plans to produce a sequel, called The Girlfriend. Hot applicants are invited to apply at

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Martin Archer ducks out of Quantum Field Theory exam early to chat up bird

In a shock exposé, the QA can reveal that TBR's Martin Archer has been spotted ducking out of an exam in quantum field theory early, to chat up a fittie. The incident occured at around 3.15pm on 18th May when Martin, having finished a full 45 minutes before the end, left the examination. He then proceeded to send a flirty email to a fair miss he's been exchanging pokes with on Facebook. Preliminary investigations suggest that the girl is indeed quite fit.

It is alledged that Archer sent word to the female that she might attend a union night this Friday, in which he himself will be laying down some funky groves. Describing his advance on the fair maiden, Martin admitted to using a "winky face" expression in his email, a telltale sign of true romantic intent.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Correction: Cheese of the week

The QA would like to point out that, contrary to a claim in a recent 'Cheese of the week' editorial, Emmental is not a Dutch cheese. The gaff was noticed by cheese expert and blog-commenting smart-arse Burge, who went on to say "The Netherlands is not the traditional home of Emmental. Indeed Emmental refers to the valley of the river Emme in Switzerland."

The Quantum angler would like to apologise for any offence caused to the Swiss cheese community by this mistake. We fully recognise that Emmental is not, and has never been, Dutch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Legend of the Blog

Once, in the ancient lands of Blogoria, there reigned a mighty poet. His mastery of words was so complete, he weilded almost godlike power over his fellow men. With the most exquisitely conjugated verbs, and sublime soliliquys, he defeated every mortal who dared stand in his way. Legends spoke of many duels, in which the best writers of the land would pit their poems against him. Even the great Verbor, a giant of a man and famed throughout the known world for his literary prowess, looked a vulgar fool at the tongue of the Poet.

With his dominance proven, the Poet rose to supreme power over the land. He ruled, not with an iron fist, but with a silver tongue. With peace throughout the land, he turned his attentions to the succession. Riding the length and breadth of the land, the Poet searched for an apprentice. The search was long and arduous, but his journey reached an end when he found the young boy, Simon, in the small village of Chippenham. A boy of noble character, he was selected to study under the Poet, and to one day take over the throne of Blogoria.

However, peace in Blogoria was not to last. Tales reached the Poet's court of an evil bard in a far off land, with powers rivaling his own. Legends have it, the Black Bard (for t'was his name), ruled with a malevonant tongue, hurling wretched profanities at all those who dared challenge him. The Poet knew he must defeat him, and he set out on a crusade to find and slay the Black Bard, and assert once and for all his right to rhyme over the land.

A vast army of elite nouns, verbs, adjectives and pronouns was summoned, stretching as far as the eye could see. With his minions, the Poet and his apprentice set off in search of the mythical kingdom of the Black Bard, Profania. For three years they rode, scouring the land for the rumoured lair of the Poet’s nemesis. But their toils were rewarded, and a chance encounter with an elf named Guite led them to the fortress of the evil poet. However Guite was not all he seemed, and he sent word to the Black Bard of the Poet’s coming. In response the Bard summoned his own army of foul expletives and obscenities.

The two armies met near Castle Profania, and battle was waged. The battle was fierce; the elaborate death cries of beautiful adjectives, and the vulgar cursings of dying swear words, could be heard for miles around. The Poet and Simon surveyed the battle from up on high, and with the balance slipping from their favour, they decided they must go confront the Bard once and for all. They rode to the castle, slaying the elite vulgarities that guarded it, and at the top of the tower, the Poet met his nemesis.

The duel commenced. The two wordsmiths exchanged their most poetic blows, and it was clear it would be a close fight. Both men grew weak; the vile insults of the Bard dented into the Poet's self-esteem, while his own sublime haikus left the Bard struggling to come to terms with his newfound admiration for trees. Then, with both men nearing their last paragraphs, the Bard struck with a killing insult, so evil and depraved that the Poet could not resist. He had been bested.

But as the Bard stood over his nemesis’ body, conjugating the one last sentence that would finish him off, Simon emerged unnoticed to the Bard. With an extremely humorous limerick, he caught him off guard, defeating the Bard in one fell swoop. The Black Bard was dead. Cradling his dying master, Simon listened as he spoke his last words. “You have served me well, my apprentice. Now I will pass on to you the source of my power; my secret weapon.” Surprised, Simon listened as the Bard gave to him the source off all his wordy powers. “I give you my name. Henceforth you shall be known as Charlie.” A great light shone as the name passed to Simon, and with that, the Poet was dead.

Charlie made a vow. He vowed to use the name and its power only for the noble purpose of procrastination. He left the castle, climbed back on his horse, and rode off to write the world’s greatest blog.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Cheese of the week: Dutch gouda

This week's 'cheese of the week' comes from the Netherlands, home to such classics as edam and emmental. Gouda is the eponymous product of a small town in southern Holland, famous, in addition, for its "smoking pipes and its 15th century town hall" [Wikipedia].

Gouda is a semi-hard, light-yellow cheese, and unlike many Dutch cheeses, gouda contains no holes. This cheese is a far cry from the in-your-face French approach to cheese, and offers a relatively mild and unprovokative alternative. The taste is smooth and creamy, with notable overtones of butter which complement the subtle but always present classic cheese tang.

Gouda triumphantly bestrides the often mutually-exclusive traits of cheesiness and smoothness. This is a thoroughly enjoyable cheese, and I hasten to recommend it to both hardened fromageophiles and cheese noobs alike.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Chair row threatens UK-China relations

A dipliomatic row has errupted between China and the UK over the conduct of Chinese diplomats at the recent G8 talks taking place at Imperial College library. Britain has accused Chinese delegates of improper seating conduct, and China has refused to partake in the talks until the remarks are withdrawn

The row began over the Chinese decision to reserve chairs at key window locations at the debate. Sources say Chinese diplomats were seen setting up on all the desks near windows before the other countries had arrived at the talks, effectively reserving the most pleasant seats exclusively for China.

Under UN rules, countries are allowed to pick whichever debating desks they like, but the UK believes China has taken liberties with this rule. The UK ambassador to the UN, Lord D. Bate was quoted as saying "we believe the unnecessary reservation of preferential seating arrangements is unacceptable behaviour for a country of China's prominence." Junior UK diplomat Mo Shun told the QA "We had to sit by the periodicals because they reserved all those nice little tables next to the windows. They weren't even using them most of the time".

The row would seem superficial, but as veteran diplomat R. Gue explains, seating arrangements at debates are crucial. "It can get very hot and stuffy in there, you need a window seat. The outcome of the talks often hinge on who has the nicest seat."

Historian A. Jezago agrees. "Take the treaty of versailles as an example. Germany was widely expected to win substantial territorial gains, but British spies managed to sabotage their alarm clock. By the time the diplomats arrived all that was left was the one with the wonky chair."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Shardlow and Chard publish latest work

Last week saw the publication of Shardlow and Chard's opus on adaptive interferometry. The work has been hailed as a grand treatise, presenting for the first time ever the entire body of mankind's knowledge on the subject of optical metrology with speckled beams. Among its thick and numerous leather-bound volumes are detailed every equation, technique, and in-joke that the would-be vibrometrist needs to become his own virtuoso in the art of remote vibration measurement.

The tome is a culmination of a year's work by the two physicists, in which the writers' lives famously suffered greatly as their devotion to the cause deepened. Chard described the ordeal. "Some days we would take data for anything up to three hours at a time. Three hours staring at an oscilloscope does strange things to a man; by the end of it the only people I could only recognise were those who ran past me really quickly from left to right, and were bright green. It made it very hard to hold down a conversation. "The project also led to the Chard's well-documented problems with alcohol. “We would go to the pub after lab and drink up to as much as a pint of ale each. I was a mess."

But it was worth it. The centrepiece of the work has been the development of the Shardlow-Chard Interferometer. Described in full detail across volumes 11-14, the Shardlow-Chard marks a revolution in optical metrology. With unparalleled accuracy it can detect vibrations off any surface, regardless of speckle. "We could point this thing at anything and it worked”, Shardlow described. “It's so sensitive; we pointed it at a mouse and detected it shivering on a cold winter's day."

The book has received rave reviews the world over, from physics to gangsta rap. Steven Hawking described the work as "totally fucking badass", Lord Robert Winston exclaimed "this is some crazy shit", while Snoop Dog was quoted to say "I opine that this work is endowed with an eloquence of expression seen so sparsely in contemporary academia." In addition, the head of the group where the work was carried out confirmed "I'm [going to give you full marks] for [this project]".

Monday, May 01, 2006

On the dynamics of the population of aesthetically agreeable female entities in an inhomogeneous undergraduate physics environment

It has been observed [1] that the number of attractive female humans (known in the field as "fitties") has experienced significant rise in recent years. Specifically, studies have shown [2] that the population thereof has followed an exponential increase with time.

where the coefficient alpha is denoted by

where kf is the fittie coefficient, aphys is the appeal of physics to women, and phi is the physics geek factor. This relationship has the known exponential solution

Preliminary data shows that experimental results match theoretical predictions well. However much of the undergraduate physics community is critical of the research. L. Ouseur cites the low rate of intra-physics copulation to suggest the number of fitties has not increased in real-terms. E.N. D'Away counters this with reference to the general geekiness of physics students. Leading fitties' reactions were mixed, R. Kameen conjectured "Oh I don't know. Fancy a cup of tea?"[3].


[1] S.P. Chard, Procrastination methods involving the observation of fitties through the computer room window as a means to avoid writing MSci reports (Wiley 2006)

[2] A. Guite, An experimental verification of the Chard law in level 3 Blacket (Cambridge University Press, 2006)

[3] R. Kameen, Invitation for consumption of a cafinated beverage (IOP Publishing, 2006)