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I’ve got a lock-in amplifier…


By Hamish Johnston at the APS March Meeting in Dallas

I don’t know how I resisted for all these years now that I’ve experienced the physics sing-along here at the March Meeting.

Pictured above is Walter Smith of Haverford College who leads the sing-along every year since 2006

The event is actually a resurrection of an old tradition that goes back to the early 20th century.

My favourite has got to be “I’ve got a lock-in amplifier” with words by Marian McKenzie, who is married to Smith. It’s sung to the tune of “Brand new key” by Melanie – or “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester” to those who live in the West Country.

Choice lines include:

My electrometer is state of the art,
My AFM could warm the clammiest heart,
I saw your post-doc, he was ogling my racks,
I’m writing up some really killer abstracts, oh,

I’ve got a lock-in amplifier,
You’ve got a laser beam.

Other classics included “Bardeen, so keen” to the tune of the Beatles’ “Michelle” and “Energy Eigenstates” in the style of Stephen Sondheim’s “A comedy tonight”.

Walter has an archive of physics songs that goes back to 1947. You can search the archive and read about the songs sung by J J Thompson and others at the Cavendish Lab in Cambridge here.

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