Female Science Professor makes an observation about random scientific inquiries made to universities
In some cases, the questions are easy and quick to answer — for example, some people call with a question about something they heard on the news. In some cases, people stop by the department (with or without calling first) and expect assistance. At least 62%* of these people are very strange. On several occasions, I have had random people call me and tell me what I should study in my research. Apparently I have been studying the wrong things. I have not yet, however, been tempted by any of these new and creative ideas, 100% of which have been bizarre.
Do some departments attract more wackos than others, or do all/most academic departments have their own special kind? Someone should study this
I know that in grad school, we had a folder of crank inquiries kept in the department’s main office, and one of my fellow students was once tasked to inspect some gizmo a random person had brought in to show one of the professors (I suspect at that point it’s better to do this than simply send the person away) because he was convinced it was an over-unity device. It wasn’t, BTW. In physics, most of the crackpots fall into three main categories: perpetual motion, anti-relativity, and anti-quantum mechanics. There are other meta-crackpots that just rail against the whole process of doing physics, claiming it’s flawed.