Columbia Professor, Emlyn Hughes, Starts Off The Semester With A Strip Tease And Other Insanity

Ami Angelowicz / February 20, 2013

Science has proven that memory is tied to emotion. The more intensity of emotion, the stronger the memory. But I’m not here to teach you about the limbic system. I’m here to discuss how quantum mechanics professor Emlyn Hughes kicked off his “Frontiers of Science” course. Hughes got the semester going with a strip tease to “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” then he got dressed, rocked himself in the fetal position while images of 9/11, Hitler and more flashed on a screen in the background. He finished his intro by Samurai chopping some stuffed animals with a sword. Finally, he turned off the music and said:

“In order to learn quantum mechanics you have strip to your[self] raw, erase all the garbage from your brain, and start all over again. Um … nothing you have learned your life up to now has in any way helped you prepare for this. Because everything you do in your everyday life is totally opposite what you learn in quantum mechanics.”

Whoa. Deep. Now I want to take his class. But some of his students weren’t sold on Hughes’ introduction to “Frontiers of Science.”  In the video, you overhear them trying to figure out what’s going on, saying, “Um, is this real life?” and “How does this relate to anything?

“He didn’t explain it or provide a context, and that’s why it was offensive to me and to other people,” freshman Maura Barry-Garland told The Colombia Spectator. 

Welcome to college, my dears. You’ll get your context by the end of the semester. On my first day of  college, I had to roll around on the floor like a cat. There was no asking why. I was a theater major, but I suspect quantum mechanics isn’t much different. While his students may be confused right now, limbically speaking, they will never forget Hughes’ class. Which means he’s doing his job.

[Huffington Post]
[The Atlantic]