APS News

May 2005 (Volume 14, Number 5)

Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science

Riordon's Lament

Ed. Note: The following is based on an incident that occurred late one night, after a hard day’s work at the APS March Meeting. A few staff members were sitting around when the subject of the proper spelling of Maxwell’s name came up.

Listen my children and shortly you’ll hear
How Jimmy C. Maxwell cost me some beer
It happened the day I decided to bet
On spelling his name, which I now do regret.

I’d heard the name spoken, and, clear as a bell
It sounded exactly like James Clark Maxwell.
"I know how to spell that," I thought, "I’m no jerk,
The name is spelled Clark, and it cannot be Clerk."

But what I forgot was that Maxwell was British,
And spelling in Britain is, at its best, skittish.
I don’t take it lightly, but view it quite darkly,
That something spelled Berkeley is verbalized "Barkley".

Driving to Louisville, you can quite sure be
That you will witness the Kentucky Derby.
Driving to Ascot, if you in your car be,
Brings you—surprise!—to a race called the "Darby".

In England the way that they spell is perverse;
In Scotland, if anything, it’s even worse.
Jimmy C.’s middle name’s spelling is queer,
And that’s why I owe everybody a beer.

— Alan Chodos

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff

May 2005 (Volume 14, Number 5)

Table of Contents

APS News Archives

Contact APS News Editor

Articles in this Issue
Weighing Device Achieves Zeptogram-Level Sensitivity
Congress Gets the Message
APS Seeks Assistance for Tsunami Victims
APS Joins STEM Community in Call for Support of Science Education Programs
Committee Picks First Five Historic Sites
Building a Better Fuel Cell Using Microfluidics
Fluid Flow Studies Help Understanding of Aneurysms
New Digitizer Captures Ultra-Quick Waveforms
Members of Congress Speak Out in Support of Science
Forum on Education Leads Endowment Drive for New APS Excellence in Education Award
Statistical Physics Can Help Build a Better Flu Vaccine
Researchers Present Wide Variety of New Quantum Tools
Strained Silicon Could Extend Limits of CMOS Technology
Featured PhysTEC School: University of Arizona
PhysicsQuest Excites Middle School Classes
San Diego Hosts Fellows' Reception
Inside the Beltway: Washington News and Analysis
The Back Page
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science