My previous post about Alex Doonebury’s college choice was linked from the MIT homepage yesterday, the final day of voting. According to the site, the online voters will “make the final choice, which will be honored in the strip.” The strip has not yet run, but as of 12:58am this morning, here were the results, with nearly 170,000 votes recorded:
- 48% MIT
- 32% RPI
- 19% Cornell
My sources tell me that at least two of the three schools (and quite possibly all three schools) involved had students who wrote scripts (computer programs) to “stuff” the ballot box. It crashed the server at some point last week, and when it came back up, the folks at doonesbury.com shut down voting access for those in the mit.edu domain (and, I might guess, those on rpi.edu and cornell.edu).
Relatedly, two recent physics-related strips generated a little bit of controversy on campus:
The rigorous freshman physics class 8.022 (also known as “Electricity and Magnetism for Masochists”) had an official response to the question, which was forwarded on to me by the awesome Nick ’09:
Alex isn’t explaining the problem very clearly. It’s about the equivalence between Thevenin and Norton circuits. One can turn any two-terminal circuit that consists of emfs and resistors into:
- an emf plus a resistor in series (Thevenin), or
- a current source plus a resistor in parallel (Norton).
They are electrically identical. When nothing is connected to their terminals, however, the resistor in the Norton circuit consumes power while the one in the Thevenin circuit doesn’t. So the Norton circuit must be warmer than the Thevenin circuit. Clever, huh?
PS: the instructors Alex talked to were NOT 8.022 instructors…
And on the MIT LiveJournal community:
The whole point of the Thevenin/Norton thing is making the assumption that they are IDEAL current/voltage sources. As such, they aren’t generating heat anyway. (and the “resistor” in a source like that isn’t really even a resistor…it’s a resistance, yes, but it’s ideal, just like the source is; and generates no heat). Those are circuit *approximations*. There is no such thing as an actual black box containing an exact Thevenin or Norton circuit.
…and later on LJ:
Also, the answer assumes that all of the components inside the box have a linear current/voltage dependence. Without that, the Thevenin/Norton thing doesn’t even make sense.
Anyway, it will be interesting what Garry Trudeau does with the next four-plus years of the MIT setting (assuming he abides by the poll results).