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Everyday science

Everyday science

Creepy comic, Hawking joins Monty Python and that shirt

14 Nov 2014 Hamish Johnston

By Hamish Johnston

The big story this week is that Rosetta’s Philae lander has touched down on a comet. During the descent, cartoonist and former physicist Randall Munroe captured the event in a series of 142 sketches. You can see the final instalment above, presumably drawn before Philae’s various problems were widely known.

But despite all the good news about Rosetta, things got a little bit overshadowed by a social-media furore surrounding Rosetta spokesperson and physicist Matt Taylor, who wrote a feature article about the mission in the October issue of Physics World. In a “you’re not going out dressed like that” moment, he wore a short-sleeved shirt festooned with scantily clad women when he was presenting updates about the Philae lander. Taylor has since apologized for his inappropriate (and offensive) choice of attire for such an auspicious event.

I am a physicist, and if you were to ask me to name my profession’s most undesirable trait I would say that we tend to be a bunch of know-it-alls – especially when it comes to things other than physics. This particular trait is captured beautifully in this rather disturbing comic highlighted by Steve Hsu on his Information Processing blog. I do have reservations about how the physicist is depicted as being older because I think that physicists of all ages can suffer from delusions of omniscience!

And now for something completely different…another common trait among physicists is a love for Monty Python and Stephen Hawking is no exception. In this fantastic clip, the renowned cosmologist joins forces with Python Eric Idle to have a laugh at the expense of TV physicist Brian Cox.

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