Workplace Physics

Classical theory: I tend to occupy either my office on the first floor or the lab in the second basement. Obviously the office has the higher potential energy. By the work-energy theorem, I can be promoted to the higher-energy state by performing work on the system. Once I am up in the office, I write up the results of the experiment and the energy exits the system in the form of a publication, so I find myself back in the lab.
Quantum theory: My state oscillates between the lab and office levels. Timescales for transitions are on the order of several weeks. Spontaneous absorption of data will cause a transition to the office state; the office state will randomly decay into the lab state with emission of one quantum of data (a PRL submission). My state is entangled with the state of the dilution refrigerator: if I am observed in lab there is a very high probability that the fridge is running.
A thermodynamic digression: When I am away from my office for several weeks, the number of objects on my desk increases with time. When I am away from the lab for several weeks, the number of items in the lab decreases with time (roughly in proportion to their utility to other members of the group). Conclusion: the chemical potential in the lab is positive, while the chemical potential on my desk is negative.

8 thoughts on “Workplace Physics

  1. lidarose

    Oops — I ought to have put “a description of physics I can relate to
    (both AG’s and Mason’s)

  2. Cheryl

    Amusing. :) The only property I’ve soldified recently in my job is the relationship between stress(of my boss, and with the passage of time on the order of 10 minutes, everyone around here) and the width of her hair – they very definitely have a positive correlation, though the bad weather and high winds recently have produced large amounts of error. (The more stressed she gets, the more she runs her fingers through her hair, poofing it out to ever-increasing white-girl afro proprotions.)

  3. Mason

    Gazebom you shouldn’t have made that eyeball comment by e-mail. Look what’s happening now. :)
    Hmmm… I wonder how this stress thing compares to the stress-strain relations in solid mechanics?

  4. Arcane Gazebo

    Mason: Unlike Josh, this guy at least had the sense to post disgusting eyeball media anonymously.
    JSpur: However, absorption of martinis in the lab state is forbidden by selection rules.

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