An interesting fellow who's hard to figure out--at times appearing to bash all intellectual pursuits other than physics, at others acting as a champion for polymathism. The mechanism by which HarveyMudders are now able to complete an off-campus HumMajor didn't exist prior to 1995, when a proposal to add it, suggestively known as the Townsend Proposal, became THE major topic of campus debate. Instructively, the process involved great uproar from current students and an overwhelming vote against by the Alumni Board of Governors--followed by an extremely quick decision to approve the proposal by the trustees, more uproar from students at not having been listened to, followed by summer break, at which point everyone forgot about it, and our first HumMajors quietly appeared in the fall.
His quark transparencies are silly.
He has a real potty mouth sometimes, especially when parents are around.
Retired Spring 2018, "a sad day for Mudd" - quote from SamMarquez
"There's no such thing as a bad pun."
BigQuantum, Spring 2013:
"I'm sort of trying to seduce you, so to speak, into quantum mechanics."
"This is a physics course, not a math course, so I'm into seduction rather than postulates."
"If you see that I'm leaving too much to your imagination, please say something."
"How's this, a little S&M for you early in the morning?"
"Usually there's a physicist doing a concentration in philosophy. You're all just hardcore people, I guess."
On the hydrogen atom's energy states:
"This is something we call rampant degeneracy, sort of like WestDorm"
BigQuantum, Spring 2009:
"Where do you want me to stick this, Vedika?"
"Life is sort of not trivial."
"This equation nailed me in the other end."
FetalQuantum, Fall 2005:
(while carrying a GeigerCounter?) "Does anybody think they're hot? If you do, then we can find out!"
"Matthew is a big particle."
"It's a really, really sexy approach to mechanics"
Quantum, Spring 2004:
"In Hilbert space, no one can hear you scream."
"You're not as sure about this [the Heisenburg uncertainty principle] as classical physics? We'll beat that out of you."
Quantum, Spring 2003:
"I was looking in the PhysicsDepartment for a sphere of weapons-grade uranium-235, but I couldn't find any."
"We're very lucky that we grow up one astronomical unit from the sun."
"If you don't find this terribly clear, it may just be because it's truthful."
"Parity's conserved! ...Whatever that means."
"The no-particle-in-a-box doesn't get much attention in physics."
"This [the Schrodinger equation] is the F=ma of physics."
"I don't mean that mathematicians are at odds with God..."
"It's bugging me to have classical physics in the room."
"I'm not going to worry about powers of 2 here; I'm among friends."
"It might not look so nice, but it is quantum mechanics after all."
"I don't know if I can let the cat out of the bag if it is Schrodinger's cat."
"Don't assume too much, it's quantum mechanics."
"Here are the two cross-terms. It doesn't mean they are angry, though."
"I'll call this term epsilon to make it sound small."
"Harvey Mudd tends to have a high spring constant; people don't get out very often."
"If they are linear, they move through constants with impunity."
"This mess....let's try making it sound sexier. We'll call it an ansatz."
"Here's a handout. It's small, though, only 1 page, so we'll call it a fingerout instead."
"This is a clean lecture - no doping in this class."
"Y is Baryon number + Strangeness number, B+S, but please don't think it is just a bunch of B.S."
ProfessorTownsend: "What has 4 legs, a tail, howls at the moon, and is full of cement?" (Silence) ProfessorTownsend: "A wolf, of course." Student: "But a wolf is not full of cement!" ProfessorTownsend: "Yeah, I know. I just threw in the cement to make it hard."
Quantum, Spring 2002:
"I have often interpreted that as the reason I am not as successful as Schrodinger-- I don't have a mistress"
"...so God has been sitting by the side of this pond beating this stick..."
"Diamonds are really hard . . . that must be why they are a girl's best friend"
"Mathematicians don't like it but it works. Therefore we do it in physics all the time"
"Physicists are wimps. We try to do the easy problems, and the chemists do the hard problems - in applied physics"
"Quantum mechanics has to allow for crazy undergraduates"
"It's perfect for a course on wave mechanics to have some handwavy elements"
"If you see it happening, don't tell anyone because the odds that you're crazy are SO much higher than that you're actually seeing it"
"We'll talk about radioactive dating later, when you're ready for a hot date"
"No parents are here. I can go back to normal"
"So now let's get down to the nonsense"
"We've managed to get to teeny kitten states"
"I'm a dog person so I have no problem saying cats aren't conscious"
"He suffered from HarveyMuddDisease?. He took too many courses"
"I've been teaching at Harvey Mudd for 25 years and nobody has resisted eating to be in my classes"
"I don't want to imply that Madame Woo is a kinky physicist, but just imagine there is a mirror on the ceiling of her lab"
"Maybe you want to date the Dead Sea Scrolls. I don't mean take them out to the movies, I mean find out how old they are"
"You can try this out because if it doesn't work, you're in deep yogurt"
While reading course feedback forms: "Oh, here's an odd one. Make more puns. I couldn't imagine anyone wanting more punishment in this class."
"We say 'least time' because it sounds sexy."
Puts up an overhead slide showing Helium atom diffraction, which we saw on the first day of BabyQuantum. "I've been grading the exams, and I decided to start the course over."
"Today I hope to convince you that photons are not pornographic..."
In the end, there is a difference between physics and religion...can anyone tell me the difference between physics and religion?
Student: So string theory is a religion?
ProfessorTownsend: That's right!
Student: What does h bar stand for?
ProfessorTownsend: Its like in the Hoch, they have a salad bar
After being applauded by frosh on the last day of first semester frosh physics, "Thank you very much. Now get the hell out of here."
"I became a theoretical physicist because I thought it was the sexiest job title imaginable."