Big Physics II: Physics T-Shirts


And for my second installment of Berkeley Physics vs. Stanford Physics, I’ll say a few words about something close to my heart: department t-shirts! While Berkeley seems to have a semi-official physics department logo that it imprints on its t-shirts, Stanford does not. This is a bit of a shame since you can purchase all sorts of Stanford logo-wear at the Stanford Bookstore, and even the Computer Science department has a cute shirt. Last year I designed an unofficial “Stanford Physics” logo for our Society of Physics Students t-shirts, which seemed quite popular:

The decoration around the ‘S’ (which is a regulation Stanford ‘S’) a Feynman diagram at one-loop order, a bit of a headache to calculate. The process is supposed to be an s-channel electron-positrion collision, which is what occurs at SLAC. Doug Osheroff once whimsically asked me what the ‘S’ does to the Feynman diagram, and I explained that it wins a Nobel prize (Osheroff is a condensed matter Nobelist, and electron-positrion experiments at SLAC have won three Nobels).

Berkeley’s logo, on the other hand, features science-y images that I’m not necessarily qualified to identify. I haven’t been able to find an official explanation of their logo, but the top two images seem to represent atmospheric physics and biophisics, while the bottom two images may represent condensed matter (is that some kind of fancy electron-something-o-graph?) and mathematical physics. It’s certainly colorful–but my only complaint is that the actual Berkeley Physics shirts are printed on white with “Berkeley Physics” in skinny, almost invisible letters.

However, both shirts get kudos for resisting the urge to make physics-puns. The world does not need another physics shirt with Maxwells equations, a top ten list of inside jokes, Einstein references, or physics cartoons. Cute as many of these concepts may be, there’s very little that a grad student (or even fashion-inept undergrad) could wear that screams “I’m too geeky to get along with normal people” more than these t-shirts.

Anyway, I wanted to add a couple of more observations about differences between the Stanford and Berkeley physics departments:

  • Berkeley has special “NL” (i.e. “Nobel Laureate”) parking spaces next to LeConte hall, while Stanford has no special parking for anybody. (Now there’s a bit of a role reversal between the public school and private school!)
  • Another minor observation, the Stanford SPS website (as of 2006) is prettier than the Berkeley SPS website. Of course, I’m biased since I designed Stanford’s Society of Physics website. As a corollary, the Berkeley site is actually regularly updated while Stanford is somewhat stagnant. Oh well.

Note: Part of the motivation for this post was that I noticed someone stumbled on my site after searching for “Stanford Physics T-shirt” on Google. If one is interested in the Stanford Physics shirt, please contact the Stanford Society of Physics Students. The Berkeley Physics t-shirt is available on the third floor of LeConte Hall at UCB.


One Response to “Big Physics II: Physics T-Shirts”

  1. 1 Paul G. Hoffman

    I found your website by accident. It’s hilarious
    and a lot of fun. How do I get the Stanford
    T-Shirt Large Size?
    P.S. Are the Stanford Physics students jealous
    this town & university have an atomic element
    named after them?
    Best of Luck

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