Monday, December 18, 2006

Incompetnce

I had to to an exercise sheet for the first year students. As most of the exercises I found in books were either shite or wrong (or both), I tried to do some of my own. I dug out the paper of Henry Cavendish, were he determined the density of the earth with his famous torsion balance. I calculated everything with his measurements. It took about two days until I had understood what he did and ended up at a Gravitational Constant which made sense.

I made an exercise out of it. I had to simplify it a bit, because the students did not yet know the torsion pendulum. While simplifying it, I introduced a couple of errors, which went unnoticed but made the complete calculation bollocks.

I had another exercise on an hammer bouncing off the floor where I mixed up elastic and in-elastic bounces.

When doing the example solution to the problems, the one which all other tutors would read and use to correct the exercises, I made about every possible error and mis-calculated about every quantity at least twice. So it took me about 8 or 9 iterations (all sent around to all tutors) to have a solution sheet, which was nearly right (I didn't find the errors myself, btw.). I think I should quit doing my PhD, hand back my diploma and do a ritual suicide. That would be the correct outcome of this. As I have met people who are even more incompetent and got away with it, I will wait a bit, maybe I can get away with it too...

3 comments:

Mariana said...

Nilsinho,

O fim de ano está quase a chegar. A malta logo te cura a depressão!!

phil said...

Anyone can make a mistake. Take Cavendish, he's so concentrated on looking through that telescope that he hasn't even noticed there's a HUGE FUCKING HOLE IN HIS WALL.

nuno said...

É uma das razões porque eu continuo a gostar de física: fazemos uns erros... who cares? A humanidade não vai sofrer mais por isso...

E como disse a Mariana, estamos quase a ir para barcelona!