Thursday, September 21, 2017

Doctor, Doctor

I have always enjoyed the company of intelligent folk and even attended several Universities where, one might suppose, one could find them. And there were some there; you had to look hard for them though.  I do not have to look hard in the Tavern as we get some really interesting, intellectually stimulating folk in here of an evening. Some even wear cardigans or  tweed jackets with patches on the elbows, and some smoke pipes.

Of course the majority of people in Universities are students and most of them, frankly, are as thick as two short planks.  

They do have an excuse though... they are young, bold, determined and there to have their wooden minds shaved and shaped and turned and generally made more presentable. 

Unfortunately many think they know everything already and for most it takes two and a half of their three years to disabuse them so they can get at least six months of marginal benefit. Most, if not all, have been taught the basics in feminised schools so even that six months has a shape already. 

A bit of knowledge can go a long way, and a bit more can get you onto the Staff. With Tenure. For that they will  first need to get a PhD.

Once they were quite rare and a 'Doctor' of this or that was well regarded. Even 'doctors' - the medical sort -regarded them well. The PhDs did not give much regard to the  medical doctors, though as they were themselves a wholly different Doctor Class. They had gone to the very edge of  'Knowledge' and 'pushed back the Darkness' with 'Ground-Breaking' study, whilst the medical chaps had simply learned to apply a band-aid.

It is common knowledge that at least one person has been awarded a PhD for a one page (A4) thesis, of such brilliance that the Professors swooned.

No-one seems to know who it was.

Mark told us:
For physics, or for anything other than mathematics, I am pretty sure it is urban legend. In mathematics it might have happened a couple times. There is a famous example of one-page (actually "one-blackboard") proof which would easily have won a Ph.D. if Frank Cole did not have one already:
In 1903, Frank Nelson Cole was scheduled to give a lecture to the American Mathematical Society, whose title was "On the Factorization of Large Numbers". Cole went to the blackboard, and without saying a word wrote down a calculation to obtain 2^67 - 1 by repeated multiplication with two. 
He finally had the number 147573952589676412927 on the blackboard. Then, still without saying anything, he multiplied 761838257287 x 193707721 -- and got the same number. He went back to his seat, still in silence.
The audience erupted in applause. Cole had proved that 2^67 - 1 is not a prime number, contrary to what mathematicians had believed for centuries.
This old Tavern Keeper has no idea what that means, but it earned Mark a pint. Craig chipped in:
Ever seen the film A Beautiful Mind?
This ain't Nash. But you know that, don't you.

The mathematician that film was based on, John Nash, has one of the shortest PhD dissertations ever published: ‘Non-Cooperative Games’. It has a grand total of 26 pages, and only cites two references. That thesis went on to found the basis for his paper on the development of game theory, for which he won the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics.
A pint for the lad.

But what about Elkies, Noam D. "The existence of infinitely many supersingular primes for every elliptic curve over Q." Invent. Math. 89 (1987), no. 3, 561–567.  
7 pages all inclusive, but not a great physicist, so I am told.

I thank you for the applause. I shall have a glass too.

Rolfe had a go:
When I started my PhD, I was sent to a general lecture for all new doctoral students about how to construct a thesis. This was at Glasgow University, and they allowed a lot of latitude. Among the points raised was that there was no upper or lower length stipulated, with a maths thesis being mentioned that was only a page or thereabouts of actual thesis (just equations), but sandwiched in a small introduction and bibliography. 
That sounds similar to the Elkies one mentioned above, but it can't have been the same one as this lecture was delivered in 1978. At the other end of the scale, there are pathology theses running into several volumes.
I don't think it's possible to have an entire thesis taking up only one page - there are things you have to include like an introduction and the bibliography which are going to get it to a handful of pages at least. I do believe the actual "meat" of a maths (or physics, possibly) thesis might be a single page, if something very elegant had been discovered.
Clearly a 'realist'. A Real Ale for him.

A sound Abstract is usually demanded too, to alert the Professors and anyone who wants to cite the thesis, just what it is about. Abstracts can run to several hundred words in a language only three people can translate in a day.

Ask a PhD student to be honest and summarise his/her years of work and you may get this. 20 of the better:
1. Does music express emotions or just elicit them? Read the next 200 pages to not find out. 
- Welldogmycats 
2. Girls take birth control. Girls then pee out unmetabolized estrogens from birth control. Pee goes to water treatment plant, estrogens not treated, male fish become female fish.
- Altzul
3. Nanoparticles are weird and I accidentally made a bomb and electrocuted myself.
4. People trying meditation for the first time get aroused.
- PainMatrix
5. When I get rid of this gene, it messes the brain up. A lot.
- NeuroscienceNerd
6. Computer AI systems can learn to operate a warp drive and automatically build an instructional system to train people how to do it. My dissertation is probably the only one in existence to reference the Star Trek technical manual.
- DrBiometrics 
7. My experimental drug does NOT cure addiction.
- NotSoCleverPork 
8. Making new magnets from old magnets because we're running out of magnets.
- IAmAHiggsBoson
9. Inpatients with schizophrenia are happier and socialize more in the context of a music listening group. It was obvious before we began the project and we learned nothing.
- Wouldyestap
10. Little things stick together. Here's a slightly easier way to calculate their stickiness.
- Born2bwire
11. There are amoebas living in volcanos, but I never captured Bigfoot on film (I tried).
12. We can take random pieces of bacterial DNA from beaver poop and put them into other bacteria to discover new things, like how to break wood down into biofuels. Yes, I had to dissect dead beavers and handle their poop.
- Geneius 
13. This protein looks like it might contribute to asthma. Oh, turns out it probably doesn't.
- Bear_Ear_Fritters
14. I crunch numbers using a supercomputer in the hopes of ensuring a fusion reactor in France doesn't get fried on the inside.
- PhysicsFornicator
15. Two proteins touch each other in a specific place in the developing heart. No idea if it's important for anything.
- Penguinpaige
16. I can make models of galaxies in a computer, but I can't explain why they don't act like real ones. Even if I bash them together or stir them around.
- McMillan_Astro
17. People sometimes think about animals as if they're people. People like those animals a little more than regular animals. Except when they don't. I can't believe they gave me a PhD.
- too_many_mangos
18. Sand washes away, don't build important stuff on it
- Zoidy
Choosing your Professor is a 'must'.

19. Why does a coffee stain looks the way it is, and how you can use it to make anti-laser glasses.
- Stockholm-Syndrom

20. You can make antimatter move in strange ways if you set your equipment up wrong.
- DrTBag
The likelihood of getting a  PhD these days is 'good' to 'high'. Universities almost kidnap people to do them. Professors require them for justifying their own existence.  Students are trawled from lower and lower depths of the public and school pool.

Professors, those high flyers atop the Ivory Towers, have changed. Many professors today are dwellers in the depths of a stagnant pond. True bottom feeders.

Down in the murk and darkness they promote one another and create 'disciplines' that have never been seen before and whose DNA was created in the black labs of the Frankfurt School. 

You are not allowed to ask them questions. You are not allowed to say some things at all. 

They would prefer that you did not think any thought that had not been passed through themselves first. They are interested only in and dissect their own turds.

Who would be a student in a University today?

You are better off in the Tavern. Believe me.

Drink up and chat amongst yourselves.



  1. Who would be a student in a University today?

    It's a way of establishing one's orthodoxy. He can't be a dangerous heretic because he has a university degree. If you are incapable of thought you are incapable of heresy. Your university degree can be brandished as proof that you can be trusted to be incapable of thought. It's evidence of your blind obedience and conformity.

    You go to university for the same reason that people joined the Party in Stalinist Russia, or joined the Nazi Party in Hitlerite Germany. It's a way of protecting yourself. It's a survival strategy. You go to university for the same reason that you join in enthusiastically in the Two Minute Hate whenever Emmanuel Goldstein's face comes up on the video screens.

  2. There's a song about her:


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..