Even a Ph.D. physicist forgets his words from time to time, just like all of us
It seems on a daily basis a word I’m trying to think of escapes me. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s that having kids has sucked any short or long term memory I used to possess out of my brain, forever. If anyone else experiences this on the daily, this next Twitter thread is for you.
Paul Coxon — a physicist in materials science at the University of Cambridge — admitted he, too, forgot what he was trying to say during a meeting with colleagues and instead of saying the word “photon” decided “shiny crumb” would have to suffice.
“Hello my name is Paul, I have a PhD in physics and thanks to a random brain freeze forgot the word for photon so had to call it a “shiny crumb” in front of my colleagues,” he wrote. Oh, Paul, we’ve all been there and we are so happy someone with your education also has brainfarts from time to time.
People were quick to jump and make Paul feel better about himself:
Soup shall forever be known as “a really wet salad.”
“My department has lots of very bright students and researchers from all over the world and I have immense respect for my colleagues studying for PhDs in what may be their second or even third language,” Coxon tells Bored Panda. “Since my Tweet, lots of people on Twitter replied sharing the times their minds have gone blank and forgotten words, and lots have been hilarious. The human mind is remarkable.”
The people did not disappoint:
Once when I was calling to make my then seven-month-old son his well-check appointment, the nurse asked for his date of birth, I froze. “Um, I know it was warm. Sorry, he’s my third. I’m pretty sure it was in August,” I stammered. After an uncomfortable pause, she asked for his first and last name (which I did remember) and after some typing, she said, “The seventh. He was born on September 7th.”
Apparently, there is a word for forgetting your words — lethologica. According to the BBC, the active vocabulary used by an adult in speech and writing often exceeds 50,000 words, so its no wonder we sometimes have a brain freeze and can’t recall the exact word we need.
“I was talking with a colleague about how we can control the routes photons, ie particles of light can take as they pass through the various solar photovoltaic materials and my mind just went blank,” Coxon continues. “We were in the department tea room and there were crumbs on the table so I guess my mind just jumped and switched photons – a word I must say dozens of times a day, for ‘shiny… crumbs.’ I can’t properly describe it. We both saw the funny side.”
Thank you, sir, for reminding us just how funny a brain fart can be.