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Am I the only professional physicist or science literate who didn't really like Copenhagen that much?

Being a theatre fan, history buff and having heard rave things from collegues and various reviews, I was prepared to love it, but found myself painfully bored. Was it pearls-before-swine, a poor rendition on the part on the cast (LA circa 2002), or perhaps sympathetic proximity-effect induced boredom from my incrediblyboredoutofhermind date? I dunno, but I found it overly long, predictable, and plodding. In particular, it seemed guilty of Shepherd-Barr's cardinal sin of gratuitously didactic monologues. Noone on a stage outside of Shakespeare usually talks like this and scientists certainly don't talk like this.

Hmm. Interesting points. A few random thoughts in response:

(1) You may have seen a less than stellar production. The Broadway version was beautifully staged and performed, I really couldn't fault anything in it (and I was actually TRYING to find fault, in a admittedly kneejerk reaction to the rave reviews). Or you could have fallen victim to a massive letdown because people built it up so much, you were far more likely to be disappointed. :)

(2) While I'd concur that in places the dialogue gets a bit stodgy and didactic, on the whole, I think the writing is well done, and the science well-integrated, not just in the text but in the staging (at least in the NYC production). The criticism that "scientists don't talk like this" isn't really valid, because nobody talks like actors on a stage. Anyone who does -- well, I for one would highly doubt their sincerity.

(3) Shepherd-Barr's the one who considers "Copenhagen" to be the pinnacle of achievemet for science plays, not me, but the field is young, and it won't reign supreme indfinitely. FWIW, I think she made the right decision in choosing to focus on it for her discussion of the tension between artists and scholars/scientists, particularly when it comes to artistic appropriation of "facts." It makes for an excellent case study.

(4) The science would have been so familiar to you, small wonder you'd be a bit bored and find things predictable and a bit plodding. And if your date was bored, you would have been all the more aware of it.

A propos of nothing, I noted (belatedly) that there's some exciting new graphene-related research making the rounds of science news outlets. I am considering posting about it. Be afraid.... :)

Dylan Stiles? I went to college with that guy! Well, he was doing chemistry while I was doing physics, but we lived in the same fraternity.

I also got to hang out with the cast of Copenhagen (Hank Stratton, Len Cariou and Mariette Hartley) when the play came to Boston. They visited the lab where I did my thesis, because we had the original 1938 electromagnet from the MIT cyclotron (it's just too heavy to move, so it stays in one place and gets used by people who need 2-tesla magnetic fields). They took publicity photos in the lab --- the magnet dates back to Heisenberg's era, see --- and a whole bunch of us got tickets for the show.

Mariette Hartley, who played Bohr's wife Margrethe, was also the one who taught Spock to eat meat in the second-to-last episode of the original Star Trek. Work out the "degrees of separation" for that one!

I never had a class with Frank Wilczek, but I did get a glass of champagne and some great hors d'oeuvres at the party the Physics Department threw when his Nobel was announced. So close to celebrity in so many ways!

Jen said: "which includes the option, in my case, of choosing not to watch such dreck at all. The freedom to choose what we believe is part of what makes this country great. I think preserving that freedom is worth the risk."
Yep, the first ammendment should read: others can believe whatever dribble they choose, whether hollywood science fiction or CNN fiction, but one shall not believe the media. "the camera does lie"

Jen said: "A propos of nothing, I noted (belatedly) that there's some exciting new graphene-related research making the rounds of science news outlets. I am considering posting about it. Be afraid.... :)"

Don't know Fear, but curiosity, hmm - if curiosity killed da cat, did curiosity kill Atom & Eve first?

Hi there! Thanks for mentioning me in your post! I'm off to the West Coast actually to do a reading of my new particle physics play BABY M at The Magic Theatre. Very sciency and spooky.

I also wanted to point you in the direction of an article I just wrote for THE SCIENTIST magazine :

And i loved your notice about the Feminist Press. I sent them a proposal, so the word is spreading!

Tell Jen-Luc Bonjour, for me :)

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.