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A Memorable Physics Professor - RF Cafe Forums

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Kirt Blattenberger
 Post subject: A Memorable Physics Professor
Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm
Posts: 878
Location: Erie, PA

A recent e-mail from an RF Cafe visitor regarding one of the books (Physics 1&2, Haliday/Resnick ) that I offer in the RF Cafe Giveaway drawing each month reminded me of a (now) humorous story.

I took my first two years of electrical engineering school at Anne Arundel Community College, which had an agreement with the University of Maryland to teach the freshman and sophomore courses, and as a bonus, an Associate's degree was awarded (so I have both an Associate's and a Bachelor's degree in engineering). Anyway, many of the engineering instructors for evening classes (I went part-time) came from the nearby U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis). Every one of them was outstanding... except one doofus that taught the second semester physics course.

This guy claimed to be an ocean biologist. He didn't even know how to do calculus. I kid you not when I say that whenever anyone had a question about how to work homework problem, he looked out over the class with a deer-in-the-headlights gaze and would ask if anyone knew how to do it. I had very much enjoyed physics until then. Fortunately, as the result of complaints from myself and others, he was replaced after a few weeks with another USNA guy that was an absolute inspiration. He not only loved physics, but was one of the most motivational instructors I've ever had.

Amazingly, the instructor that taught the third semester of physics was also a biologist, but he was a brimming genius and could work any problem in the book, be it electronic fields, optics, gravitational forces, or anything else.

- Kirt Blattenberger :smt024
RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster

 Post subject: Re: A Memorable Physics Professor
Posted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:33 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 12:07 pm
Posts: 365
Location: London UK
I've often wondered who reinforced the masochistic tendences I must have had when young to steer me towards physics and EE.
The first must have been my father who was an EE and MechE.
Then the famous Dr. Barnes Wallis came to our school to tell 30 or so up-turned faces what it was like to be a scientist. He was so completely wrapped up in what he was/had-been doing that I too became inspired.
On the other hand he failed to tell us how difficult the theory is, so that came as a later shock.
Then at senior school we had 2 physics teachers who were only about 3 years older than their students. That was inspiring too: at the age they were at we really believed they were telling the truth (they weren't of course). Older teachers we always thought lied as much as our parents.
Then at University of Birmingham in UK we had a Dr. McGee as physics lecturer who had been a lab assistant when the first cavity magnetron burst into life. He had a wealth of (tall) stories and the gift of the gab. Very inspiring.
In my first job, the older guys I worked with were very helpful, and humerous, and helped dry the wetness behind my ears, and get rid of the green bits.
After that, although I was on my own, the house was built on rock.

At bottom, life is all about
Sucking in and blowing out.

Posted  11/12/2012
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