Physics Theoretical

by John A. Barrett

This is one of Greg's favorite poems, for obvious reasons. He thinks it was probably first published in Physics Today sometime between 1987 and 1991, but since he is unable to find the proper issue...oh well. Richard Carter has pointed out that it can be sung to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan's I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major-General (from The Pirates of Penzance).

I've studied all the sciences in order alphabetical,
My judgment is, which some of you may find to be heretical,
        The field that's really quite abstruse,
        The field where all the screws come loose,
The field that's famous for its spoofs, is physics theoretical.

I've taken undergraduate work whose content is forgettable;
And graduate work is gen'rally regarded as regrettable.
        The lecturers are all absurd.
        A cogent word is never heard.
Insanity afflicts a third in physics theoretical.

We never do experiments; we shun the purely practical.
Our best work's done in getting grants--our budgets are fantastical.
        In one respect our motive's pure:
        Though funding fails, we still endure--
We make damn sure our job's secure in physics theoretical.

Our scientific breakthroughs are, to say the least, debatable.
We laugh at critics haughtily; our egos are inflatable.
        The rest of science goes along,
        Because our last defense is strong:
It's hard to prove we're ever wrong in physics theoretical.

(For more physics songs, check out the appropriately named, maintained by Professor Walter F. Smith of Haverford College.)
Click here to read the Story of Mel, a Real Programmer.
Click here to return to Greg's list o' humor (and other things).
Last modified 23 July 2006 by Greg Roelofs, you betcha.