« On the theory of e-mail contraction as distance approaches CERN | Main | The Routine »

Snapshot: back-of-the-banana physics

Physicists seem to have a reputation, self-made or otherwise, for discussing physics on writing surfaces that are . . . less than typical. The most common phrase for a quick, short, but somewhat accurate calculation is a "back-of-the-envelope calculation," implying the nature of the writing surface: whatever is at hand.

In the CERN cafeteria, over mouthfuls of paella and sips of water, sometimes your discussion about contributions to electrically charged particle radiation demands a writing surface. The napkins were all used, no envelopes in sight, and suddenly my colleague (an SMU post-doctoral researcher named Aidan) said, "We can use this banana peel - it works quite well!" He began scribbling a diagram of radiation loss versus energy for a few processes, writing in swift, smooth strokes on the waxy but rough surface of the banana peel. Believe it or not, it does make a FABULOUS writing surface!



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (1)

Aidan's mother:

That's my boy!

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 16, 2010 4:45 PM.

The previous post in this blog was On the theory of e-mail contraction as distance approaches CERN.

The next post in this blog is The Routine.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.