Jokes for those of the materials science persuasion

A month ago, Amanda (my partner in crime) and I were guilted into giving chosen to give a talk at the MSE department’s student awards night. We recycled some of my blog posts from 2008 and presented “How MSE Has Robbed Us of Life’s Simple Pleasures” to a room full of materials scientists. Our greatest fear going into the talk was that our jokes would be met with blank stares and lobbed tomatoes, but in actuality, that only would have happened with a room full of non-MSE folks. (Like my knitting group. True story.)

Anyway, for MSE-ers who just can’t get enough nerdy MSE humor, I present to you my introduction to our presentation:

In the 3 years that we’ve been studying Materials Science & Engineering, our perspectives on the world have changed considerably. For example, we once thought that “creep” was just another name for a jerk, but we know better now. And where we’d thought necking was something that creeps try to do, we now know – well, there can still be some creep involved in necking. You see, MSE has opened our eyes to a world where atoms do a better job of cooperatively interacting with each other than people do, and where things are not always what they appear to be at first glance.

I first noticed this last bit during my first summer as an intern at GE. It may have been the result of staring at steel microstructure for too many hours, but I swore the grains had arranged themselves into the shape of a duck. I asked a fellow intern to confirm whether or not I was hallucinating.

“You’re crazy,” he said. “And anyway, it’s a chicken.”

“Crazy” must have been contagious, then, because over that summer and the next, many of us interns were regularly “seeing things” in the microstructure of our samples. The phenomenon came full circle at the end of my last internship, when one of the students I hadn’t known during the duck incident capped his end-of-term report with a PowerPoint slide featuring a huge micrograph where the grains were arranged in the shape of a cartoon head with its mouth wide open – and he’d added a speech bubble with the word “Questions?”

Crazy may be catching…

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About Caitlin
I'm a senior Materials Science & Engineering student at The Ohio State University.

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