Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 35:
My First University:
The practical side of my studies was the summer work in the bush. I learned how to do resistivity surveys to find the depth and size of gypsum deposits, electromagnetic surveys looking for metallic deposits, gravimetric surveys to look for dense deposits of heavy ore and seismic surveys to find the depths of various layers above potential pools of oil.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 34:
My First University:
A lecturer with a style similar to Blanchard’s was John Bardeen, a two-time winner of the Nobel Prize in physics. They both taught profound subjects in an understated and unspectacular manner.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 33:
My First University:
After the lecture was over Dr. Blanchard gave me a bit of advice about lectures and lecturing, that I subsequently found to be, by and large, quite true. When you go on with your education, he said, “you’ll hark back to my lectures and you’ll find that you learned more from them than from many other lectures stylishly delivered with seemingly stimulating ideas.” He was correct, I remarked to myself later on, after monitoring many seemingly brilliant talks that sounded good at the time they were delivered, but eminently forgettable shortly thereafter.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 32:
My First University:
Professor Blanchard didn’t have a dynamic style, and as a result his lectures weren’t inspirational. Then again, what can you expect of someone who has to discuss the applications of Bessel functions and other classical mathematical tools to theoretical geophysics. One day he was lecturing to a small group of us and I guess I’d fallen asleep or was dosing off. All of a sudden I opened my eyes and there was the good professor waving his hand from side to side about six inches in front of my nose; I just about fell off my chair.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 31:
My First University:
Normal Paul was also a pioneer in student rights. He would have fitted in well in today’s centres of learning where university profs are graded on the internet by their ex-students…..He was the kind of student who just had to have “A” grades and Professor Stewart’s course did not seem to guarantee these. So one day after having suffered through one more unconventional lecture, he (Normal) convinced us that we should accompany him up to Stewart’s office, to complain about the course. The door was open and Dr. Stewart looked up as our delegation approached. His initial response was that we looked like a lynching party.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 30:
My First University:
Another flash point was oral sex, which in those times was considered lewd and could lead to arrest. As a matter of fact, there was a case in Saskatchewan a few years later where an RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officer had peeked in through a back kitchen window, and had seen enough to arrest the couple. I wonder if there is still a law against it on the books, or has this been superseded by the concept that the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation?

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 29:
My First University:
Every now and then, Normal Paul Peterson, would convoke a meeting to discuss more important discoveries. One that sticks out in my mind was about the clitoris. His lecture, complete with blackboard illustrations, was a revelation to me; women it seemed could
enjoy fantasizing as much as men. My father had never enlightened me on the subject.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 28:
My First University:
Another phenomenon of the Dalhousie Physics Department was a fellow student called Normal Paul Peterson – a chap who had a wide range of knowledge. Yes, his first name was really “Normal”. One of his specialties was sex. Among his lesser ideas there was the possibility of stuffing a banana in one’s pants before walking up and asking a girl to dance.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 27:
My First University:
Dr. Bronson had wanted to know why I wasn’t in his Bible study class. At that time, Dalhousie was very much a Presbyterian institution. Much of this “ado” was probably related to the fact that old physicists e.g., Spinoza, Newton, Eddington, Townes, often delved into religion in their old age. Physics, I suppose, is a pursuit that makes you believe you’re close to God.

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.

Memoirs of a Hayseed Physicist by Peter Martel

Part 26:
My First University:
In my junior year I began spending much more time in the physics department. Like any physics department it had its share of peculiarities. One day while I was walking down the main corridor of the building an elderly emeritus professor, Dr. Bronson, pointed at me and asked something of a near by student. I made out the student’s reply to be something like: ”Oh your assumption is correct, he isn’t one of us.”

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With permission of the author. This is an on going story one paragraph at a time beginning on the post of July 6th. We will get back to our music and art after this little break.