Physics 400 002

Physical English

Some notes on giving talks and writing physics papers.

The Mayfield Handbook of Technical and Scientific Writing

A link to John Eastwood's Oxford Guide to English Grammar.

Michael Alley's The Craft of Scientific Writing.

Daniel Oppenheimer's article "Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly."

A retired Australian teacher of English appears at about 2:30 in episode 2 of series 2 of Rake on
Netflix.

A pdf of Compton's 1923 article on the scattering of photons by electrons.

A pdf of Glauber's 1965 Les Houches lectures on quantum optics.

Pages one and two of Edward Purcell's proposal to observe the 21 cm. line of atomic hydrogen in the Milky Way.

Article on measurements that set an upper limit on the electric dipole moment of the electron.

SNO article on their search for neutron-antineutron oscillations.

HAWC article on their detection and analysis of 10-500 TeV cosmic rays.

The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete,'' an Atlantic article by James Somers.

Feynman's article on simulating physics with computers.

Feynman's lectures on physics.

Laurie Brown's selection of Feynman's papers. His books and papers are among the finest examples of excellent scientific writing.

David Hubel's Eye, Brain, and Vision.

Video of last half of lecture of 29 January.
Review of Orwell's rules and some examples of mediocre writing.
Video of lecture of 5 February.
Examples of mediocre writing and my attempts to improve on them.
Video of lecture of 12 February.
Examples of good writing.
Video of lecture of 19 February.
Examples of good writing, irregular English verbs, demonstration of equivalence principle.
Video of lecture of 26 February.
Odds and ends: hopefully, there, who and whom. Examples of medicore writing and attemps to improve them.
Video of lecture of 5 March.
Parts of speech, that and which, and more examples of medicore writing and attemps to improve them.
Video of lecture of 19 March.
That and which, restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, it's okay to split infinitives, it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition, fixing some sentences.
Video of lecture of 26 March.
Some advice from the book The Reader Over Your Shoulder by Robert Graves (author of I, Claudius) and Alan Hodge.
Video of lecture of 2 April.
An example of good science writing: Arthur Compton's 1923 article on the scattering of photons by electrons. Edward Purcell's 1950 proposal to measure the 21 cm. line of intersteller atomic hydrogen. Some of the relevant physics.
Video of lecture of 9 April.
Gerunds. Examples of good science writing: Lise Meitner's 1950 Nature article "Fission and [the] Nuclear Shell Model," the 1927 article by Davisson and Germer on the scattering of electrons by nickel crystals, a 2006 article on supermassive binary black holes by Taylor and others.
Video of lecture of 23 April.
Use of the indefinite article, comments on three recent papers by the SNO and HAWC collaborations and by Eric Cornell's group.
Video of lecture of 30 April.
Avoid using adverbs as objects of prepositions, how to structure an argument, links (near top of this page) to MIT's book on scientific writing and to books and papers by Richard P. Feynman, Feynman's paper on the use of computers to simulate physics—an example of superb scientific writing.

Steven Pinker's lecture Linguistics as a Window to Understanding the Brain.

Noam Chomsky's lecture Language, Creativity, and the Limits of Understanding. You should skip the introductions which last seven and a half minutes.
His lecture The Concept of Language.
Audio of some of Churchill's speeches.

Undergraduates may want to apply for McNair summer research scholarships; direct your questions here.