The Ecphorizer

Thauma-Physics
Brian Litzenberger

Issue #58 (September 1986)



[Editor's Note: Brian submitted the following piece as part of an application for a Mensa scholarship. He didn't get the scholarship, but we felt that his idea was so original that it deserved publication.'/>

I want to create a new profession and become the first thauma-physicist ("thauma" is the Greek word from which we derive the English word "drama"). As the first thauma-physicist my job would be to explore new dimensions of physics through drama.

I would do character studies of atoms rather than humans, performing plays much like the early English morality plays where the characters represented ideas. Newton's third law, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction," would be a particularly adept subject for my first physio-drama, because, as all actors know, acting is reacting. I would make the audience dizzy with my performance on Lorenz forces, the force that causes a moving charged particle to spin in a magnetic field. People would be shocked by my intense play on Boyle's law relating the pressure and the volume of a gas. My plays on light and lenses would show people a new way of looking at the theater.

There is probably a lot of humor to be found in a play that analyzes the life of an atom in a highly-pressurized piston rubbing shoulders with other atoms, all of which are just trying to do their jobs. I suspect there are several colleges that might hire a physics professor who dramatizes each new chapter or lab. This kind of excitement and energy in a required science course could make what is sometimes thought of as a chore more understandable and even enjoyable for the non-science major. I might be laughed at by every dean and department head across the nation but this would be the laughter that precedes applause. 

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Brian Litzenberger




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