Physics, Engineering, and Laughter

There might be funnier comedians in the world, but none who has been written up in Chemical & Engineering News. By day, Pete Ludovice is a professor at the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. By night, he’s a funnyman who prowls the sweaty underbelly of Atlanta comedy clubs looking for cheap (or at least economical) laughs. In truth, Georgians should count themselves lucky. Ludovice could have become a criminal mastermind — he was voted most likely to earn a mug shot while wearing a pocket protector at M.I.T. Instead, his aberrance has found an outlet with projects such as Inside the Black Box, a weekly educational radio show about “science, only funnier,” and more recently a one-man stage show called Feel the Power of the Dork Side. While Ludovice’s view of geeks as pariahs might seem a bit outdated, his ability to turn Gaussian distribution into a giggle is unparalleled. During last years’ Fringe in New Orleans, people left the show with ear-to-ear grins and a passable understanding of statistical mechanics — a branch of physics that uses probability theory to study very large groups of particles. It’s funny, seriously. Before you know it, the Bell Curve, distribution variation, and even the business strategy Six Sigma will combine into one dynamic laugh riot. For that, you might forgive Ludovice’s Aerosmith parody. Have your pencils ready.
June 8-9, 8 p.m., 2012

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