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August 31, 2006

Me, in an e-mail to Prof. Muller of Physics for Future Presidents:

“On Table 1.2 (Energy Units) in the first chapter, a quad is defined as a quadrillion (10 to the fifteenth) BTUs and is equated to 10 to the twelfth joules. But a BTU is supposed to be 1000 joules, which means that the conversion to joules should be 10 to the eighteenth, if I’m not mistaken. I know it’s pretty trivial, but I’m obsessive compulsive like that.”

Prof. Muller’s Response:


A billion is 10^9; a quadrillion is 10^12, not 10^15 as you say.”


Well, I guess Prof. Muller’s a pretty busy guy. Much too busy to learn any TRIvial numerical prefixes. But he could have just as well spared himself the time and not bothered to answer at all.

You wouldn’t see Mr. Chayo saying something like that, that’s all I’ve got to say.

Moral of the story (and I’ve been stressing this lately): LISTEN to the annoying know-it-alls. Even if you hate being corrected, especially by a pretentious prick who certainly doesn’t know any more than you do, do not just dismiss his words as drivel. I’m not saying you have to do what they say or even like what they say, but pay attention to it. Because while know-it-alls may not know it all, there’s a good chance they know something you don’t. And if you don’t acknowledge that possibility, you’re even more of a know-it-all than they are.


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  1. hahaha…I had to read that a couple times– but that’s funny.
    Good luck with everything!

  2. good stuff
    fight the power

  3. I’m pretty sure Mr. Chayo is better than most college professors ANYWHERE.  I was thinking about him today, too, while I was in my math class which is really weird that you posted this.

  4. Hell yes. Now I’m moving this way- I’m doing this thing. Please enjoy.So how’s the Paul Graham coming? You overloaded with SCHOOL reading?

  5. Yes… I’ve only read chapters 1-4. But don’t worry, I’ll get to it…

  6. Anonymous permalink

    i still dont know what a quadrillion is, chris. oh yeah sorry i came back to folsom friday night but then i was in reno today and didnt have reception when you called and i wasnt sure if i called you or your house phone back but ill be back tomorrow night =)

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