Sunday, April 22, 2007

In April 2007, I gave the Flying Circus of Physics talk at the University of California at San Diego to faculty and students. The campus was lovely, the weather was wonderful (I had snow the preceding week back home in Cleveland!), and the audience was delightful. Professor Dan Dubin stood on me while I was in the beds of nails. I think he was reluctant to hurt me, unlike some of the motorcycle gangs I used to hang out with.

The next day, I ventured into LA for the second time within a month, this time to give the FCP talk in the early morning class of Professor Chris Gould at the University of Southern California (USC). The day was dark and rainy, and …. Wait! This was LA --- no rain for some six months. I show up and need to haul the boxes of my equipment across campus and it rains!

Still, in spite of the rain, the 9:00 am class was very tolerant of me, and Professor Gould stood on top of me while I was in the beds of nails. At least two of the students showed up with skateboards, obviously having just skateboarded through the rain. That is, by the way, one of the best ways to get through rain to minimize how wet you get, as discussed in Chapter 1 of the Flying Circus of Physics book.

The book also discusses traffic jams and shock waves on freeways. The freeways in LA could be someone’s PhD dissertation on shockwaves, especially when it rains because rain there is so infrequent that every driver seems to drive in shock when the road is wet. That is, accidents are plentiful. They should see what driving is like in a blizzard in Cleveland. Now that would put fear in their hearts (and rapidly increase their insurance premiums).


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