Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Cool German physics words

It is a tradition with the UC-Berkeley physics department that the first-year graduate students put on a skit every year. The class one year behind me did a particularly creative "Family Feud" type thing, surveying all graduate students on issues like "Who is the scariest professor to have for the preliminary oral exams?" My favorite of the questions was "What is the coolest German word used in 221A [the first-year quantum mechanics course]?" Among the top answers were "Zitterbewegung" and "ansatz" (an assumed form for the solution to an equation). I would also have added "bremsstrahlung" to the list, which translates as "braking radiation," not "breaking radiation" as some of my non-German-speaking classmates thought.

And yes, it has been long enough since I studied this stuff that it's all Greek...err, German to me now.

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