Monday, August 4, 2008

Cool News on Dear Professor

Eric Mazur (Harvard) was awarded the Millikan prize this year, and I stole this blog post (or rather, I excerpted this from it out on my sidebar because all her posts are terrific). Her post offers a detailed account of the marvelous keynote lecture he gave for the occasion. You can download the entire presentation on his website, and I recommend that you do so, because, well, it was marvelous!

The AAPT Press release on the award has this to say:

“Professor Eric Mazur’s Peer Instruction technique has altered the landscape of physics teaching. Numerous teachers have adopted Peer Instruction, enlivening their classes by turning passive students into active learners. AAPT’s Robert A. Millikan Medal recognizes Eric Mazur’s outstanding scholarly contributions to physics education,” says Harvey S. Leff, Chair, AAPT Awards Chair, as well as the 2008 AAPT Past President, and Professor Emeritus of Physics, California State Polytechnic University.

Here’s the content of the lecture.

He opened up with this poem from the “Dear Professor” collection of poems based on emails sent to a real live physics professor and compiled by his wife, Nin Andrews.

Dear Professor,
I still don’t believe heavy
and light things fall at the same speed.
A feather and a stone, for example.
You kept saying I’d get it
if I lived in a vacuum.
Do you live in a vacuum?


Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

I'm neurotic about words, so I had to delete my first comment when I noticed I'd written "deptartment".

Anyways, I was saying that my parents told me about this meeting. They also brought your book home, several months ago (I believe they got it from Jim). My step-dad teaches in YSU's physics department, so we mightily enjoyed the poetic physics-speak!

sevnetus said...

Sigh. Most times I wish I had your family's life. When I was young my aunt kept driving me on about ambition. She's done well for herself but with me it didn't take. Congratulations.

Stephanie said...


Thanks for linking to my post, and for your kind comments about my site! We've really been enjoying "Dear Professor" here at CU-Boulder, and one of my colleagues is going to put one of your poems about Quantum Mechanics as the front page on the course website for junior-level quantum mechanics (with attribution, of course!). They are a real delight.

Nin Andrews said...

Thanks so much, Stephanie. And your blog is the best. What is it with those Olympic swimsuits anyhow? I see you've posted on that -- amazing stuff.