Word of the day: CurMudgeon
"I could be chainsawing guinea pigs in the parking lot, and they couldn't do anything to me, because I've got tenure. I could kill one of you, and all they could do is put me on paid leave until I got out on parole." -- Eckert, about the joys of getting tenure
Eckert is one of the more "unusual" characters in the HarveyMuddCollege Faculty. He is known for his tendency to injure himself and tell outrageous stories about a wide variety of subjects. He teaches PhysicsOfStuff?, perhaps the only course ever to require students to purchase a blowtorch. Eckert is usually responsible for running ElectromagneticFields?, ElectricityAndMagnetismLab?, and some recitation sections of FroshPhysics and ElectricityAndMagnetism? in the fall; and ModernLab? and more FroshPhysics recitations in the spring.
Currently teaching Physics24A?, which is wave motion and classical mechanics for masochists.
Eckert appears momentarily in the opening credits of "Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl" as a gangly, lost-looking grad-student-like figure in a tweed cap. Really.
He helped me pass FroshPhysics the second time around (when it's so much easier!) One of the great things about Prof. Eckert is that, unlike many of the other faculty here, he gives me the feeling that he had to work really hard to learn everything he knows, instead of exuding "I'm a great teacher and a neat person but I'm incredibly brilliant and what do you mean you don't understand?" So although he may not seem like the most approachable guy, he's a really good person to ask for help (even though I hear he's a terrible lecturer).

Prof. Eckert also never graduated high school. Accounts of why this is so vary, but he likes to say that one of these days he and ProfessorSparks are going to go get their GED's together (Prof. Sparks doesn't have hers because she was in England or some silly excuse like that).

Actually, in lab once this is the story Eckert told us:

Eckert was in a shop-type class that was integrated across ability levels. There was one fairly retarded kid there, and the teacher made sport of him a lot. Once he did something particularly terrible and Eckert decked him and I think broke his nose. At that point, though the high school administrators said they agreed with his actions, he was told that it was probably best for him to just leave..

By the way, Eckert is one of the ScariestProfsAtMudd.

Which does not preclude him being among the most forgiving and lenient of the physics profs, IMHO

The eternal gratitude and awe of the EastDorm contingent to Spring '02 Frosh Physics are offered to anyone who finds and sings a plausible ancient Incan funeral dirge to him.

http://us.imdb.com/Title?0031022 Here we are. "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", 1939 version starring Basil Rathbone. Includes a scene where a character sings what Holmes claims to be an ancient Inca funeral dirge. If someone can find a copy of it, we're all set. So, can I have that eternal gratitude and awe now? ^_^ - JeffBrenion

At one time, ProfessorEckert didn't believe in radiation badges. So he allowed his ModernLab? students to go without the badges. Then one day, the state radiation inspector happened by and came into lab while ProfessorEckert wasn't there. He asked the students where their badges were, and they replied, "Badges? BADGES? We don't need no stinking badges!" (This is variously a reference to WeirdAlInUhf, who was parodying Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, who in turn was parodying The Treasure of Sierra Madre, where they actually did talk about badges) At this point ProfessorEckert came in, and the radiation inspector asked him where the radiation safety officer for HarveyMuddCollege was. ProfessorEckert saw ProfessorHaskell down the hallway and pointed him out to the radiation inspector, and left poor ProfessorHaskell to be assaulted by the inspector while he hurriedly canceled lab for that day and sent the students packing.
I hear that he once (accidentially) took a carry-on bag with a gun into an airplane.

This story is true. So the scenario is that ProfessorEckert is a competitive shooter, and he owns several very expensive pistols which he must check at the airport when he travels. One time at Chicago O'Hare, he ran into trouble with the ticket agent, who insisted that a large red sticker proclaiming "Firearm inside" must be affixed to the hard metal briefcase which contained the weapons (and several hundred rounds of ammunition). ProfessorEckert argued that FAA regulations allow the sticker to be placed _inside_ the briefcase, thus making theft of his very expensive weapons far less likely. After a long discussion, the sticker was affixed inside the case, and Eckert ran to his plane, clutching his metal briefcase (he owns two of them, one for papers, one for weapons). As he slid into his seat, sighing with relief that he made the flight despite the stupidity of airline ticket agents, he popped open the briefcase to get a magazine, only to find, nestled in their plastic cocoons, two very expensive firearms, and several hundred rounds of ammunition. The case was shut quickly, with a snap, and immediately clutched to his chest. He began looking about wildly, hoping no one had noticed. The remainder of the flight passed without incident, the case clutched firmly to his chest, and an occasional remark to a flight attendant, "No I DON'T want to put this in the overhead bin!" In hindsight, that was (assuming the reliability of Eckert to not commit an act of terrorism--dubious, that) likely one of the safer flights in the nation -- what are the odds that _two_ people would successfully smuggle firearms onto the same flight, afterall?

Well, if the events are independent, the chance of two people smuggling weapons onto a plane given that one person smuggled one on is the same as the chance that one person smuggled one on in the first place. If they aren't independent, it's probably higher, given that the fact that one person could smuggle a weapon on means the security can't be all that great in the first place.

Statistically, people who are statistical sticklers are significantly more likely than ANY other such set of sapiens to ruin a solid conclusion to a swell story. The sole exception to this statistic (statistically speaking) is that statistical sticklers that incorrectly infer causation through correlational data - such folks, suprisingly not at all rare, are somewhat more suceptable to ruining such stories.

Besides, the punchline's true anyway- regardless of whether anyone else could smuggle weapons on board, what are the chances of a terrorist successfully hijacking a plane with Eckert on board and armed?

Yeah, really. Eckert's already terrified of flying. He would have no qualms about calmly standing up and shooting any would-be hijackers. He's probably a better shooter, too.

Also, he told me that there's an upper-division class which teaches things like the fact that sunglasses should go over your eyes and sweaters should go over your head.

While we're on the subject of Eckert stories, who wants to put up the one about how he broke his back on an icy hill?
As a USC undergrad, Eckert was chosen to be the student greeter when RichardFeynman? came to give a lecture. He then proceeded to do so every year until he graduated, every time Feynman gave a lecture. By graduate school Eckert would call Feynman to ask for him to stop by and give talks, and when Eckert became ProfessorEckert he succeeded in having Feynman give lectures every year.

Feynman was a rather famous guy, and these talks would be well populated with people from every department. In addition, the dinners intended for students would fill up with professors. After one of his last lectures at Mudd (Feynman had already had his first bout with cancer), Eckert informed Feynman that the faculty would be taking him out but that he, Eckert, would be going with his students out for beer and pizza. Feynman ditched the faculty dinner and ate with Eckert's students. Low and behold, a couple of the students were the same pranksters who moved CaseDorm. This was before they had spoken about it to anyone, and they explained how they would self report soon due to the honor code. Feynman told them never to admit they had done anything, regardless of the honor code.

When the students did self-report, they were punished so severely that one of them called Feynman and told him that he was right, and that they'd trust his advice from then on.

It is perfectly fine to call ProfessorEckert ProfMerv?. Apparently, Eckert was pulled over one time and had to attend traffic school. The teacher never stopped calling Eckert "Merv." Thus, ProfessorEckert is ProfMerv?.


I can't imagine anything more relevant to the human condition than string theory.

I'm obviously not qualified to watch Baywatch. Maybe I should ask Townsend or Donnelly or one of my colleagues. They know.

I know where the bodies are buried.

I know I'm a sadistic bastard, but it helps me get through the day.

God in his infinite wisdom made humans as his ultimate acheivement. God's an underachiever, but that's okay.

If I just skewered you at arbitrary angles?

We must either have nerves of steel or brains of Jello. (as he's about to open up a piece of equipment that still has current running through it)

An ammeter used as a voltmeter is known as a fuse.

I'm pretty sure it's the other way around (a voltmeter used as an ammeter etc.), and I'm pretty sure Eckert would have gotten it right. An ammeter used as a voltmeter (in parallel, that is) should just report half the true current - GeoffRomer
Come now, I learned 8 or 10 months ago in _highschool_ that that wasn't true, and i still remember it! (of course it involved a lab using ammeters, and half the class blew a fuse).

An ammeter used as a voltmeter is known as a short circuit. The current would go, almost entirely, through the ammeter, and not at all through the thing you're measuring the "voltage" drop across. This would probably burn or melt something-hopefully just the ammeter-if you tried to use it as a voltmeter across the entire circuit. - ArielBarton

Biologists are made up of DNA, and what a waste of it.

I like puppies, but I couldn't eat an entire one.

Oh, my God, I'm blinded by the ham!

Other than the fact that it's wrong, I think it's okay.

I've been hit by Mace and that's just uncomfortable, but pepper spray will drop you like a stone.

Don't worry, I'm just randomly accusing you of things.

Remember, you're not "doing a lab," you're "performing an experiment." You "do" Europe, and maybe other things, but not a lab.

Are there any engineers [or CS majors] here? (a few frosh raise their hands) Oh, and you seemed like such decent people...

on opening a door:

(during prof evaluations) I think, if you use it in the command form, the word "bastard" should be capitalized.

If you have a nice suit and you can point, you can be an engineer.

Could you turn that nuclear explosion down?

(to a new advisee) They must've missed the "anyone but".

Sophomore E&M lab student (circa 1983): Professor Eckert, my apparatus isn't generating any data. What's wrong? Eckert: I dunno. You tell me -- you're the experimentalist!

On solving a differential equation: "We already know the answer. That makes the guessing a lot easier."

"Why don't we pick an arbitrary symbol. We will use the greek letter 'worm.'"

"No, officer, I wasn't really going over the speed limit. I was doing it in the imaginary plane."

First day of E&M recitation 2004, while Eckert is taking roll:

 Eckert:  Krystle?
 Krystle: Here.
 Eckert:  But it's spelled wrong!

Don't ever put a bumper sticker on your car that says "Save the Planet". I will hunt you down and kill you in your sleep.

We'll just call you Kyle. --regarding KevinBergemann

Kindergarteners are the last people to need naps. If I taught kindergarten, I would have the kids doing wind sprints so they would go to sleep as soon as they get home. (paraphrased due to the quote happening an hour and a half before being posted)

If I had had a gun, I'd have shot my alarm clock.

I hear you're not allowed to smile at any time in your sophomore year.

Doctors should not be allowed to do research because they don't know how.

Don't sleep in my class. Tell you what, you promise not to sleep in class and I'll promise not to come to your room and lecture.

We'll have one empty chair in the class. It'll move around the room. We should plot it as a function of time.

Jason Frosh: We can eliminate chairs as time goes on!
Eckert: Wouldn't it be simpler to eliminate students?

You should joke to ProfessorVanHecke about CheMistry. He'll laugh, but his eyes won't.

On why the perpetration of light through a vacuum mandates that light be a particle:
I can transfer energy and momentum to you with a deer rifle through a vacuum.

Being a parent is the greatest thing ever. But as God is my witness...there comes a time when you need a taser.

On ProfessorSahakian: Sahakian is... Well, he's difficult to classify. You know how you have these different categories- animal, vegetable, mineral, Sahakian.

That's why I have shotgun shells loaded with rock salt, to get physics majors out of my begonias.

After being asked a question about the details of performing an experiment in Modern Lab: Why are you asking the janitor this question?

FessNelson is currently ProfessorEckert's FroshPhysicsLab LabAss.

Category: ClaremontProfessors

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