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My terrible thesis


Flunking my exam in an interesting way
Jeremy Bernstein Scientist
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And then I did some studying on my own and I must have taken some courses or other, and then I came to this exam and flunked it. But I flunked it in an interesting way. I flunked in an interesting way in that I was able to answer some of the questions, but not in the way a physicist would answer them, just in some mathematics way, and so on. So they said, 'Well, you know, we don't know exactly what to do with you, but you have to take this course in experimental physics with RV Pound.' I said, 'Oh, all right.'

Meanwhile I was actually writing my thesis in physics, because there was a young guy called Abe Klein was an instructor who had no students, and so I was… he was willing to take me. So I was starting my thesis with him, and then I took this course in experimental physics. Pound recently died. He was a wonderful guy, really marvellous. And I think he sort of understood what was going on and he was very tolerant. And I had a very good lab partner, who was very, very helpful. So I managed to pass that thing.

Born in 1929, Jeremy Bernstein is an American physicist, educator and writer known for the clarity of his writing for the lay reader on the major issues of modern physics. After graduating from Harvard University, Bernstein worked at Harvard and at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. In 1962 he became an Associate Professor of Physics at New York University, and later a Professor of Physics at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, a position he continues to hold. He was also on the staff of The New Yorker magazine.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: RV Pound

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: 15th June 2011

Date story went live: 17 August 2011