Physics Theoretical

by John A. Barrett,
probably first published in
Physics Today
sometime between 1987 and 1991

I've studied all the sciences
in order alphabetical;
My judgment, sorry to say,
some of you may find heretical;
The field that really is abstruse,
The field where all the screws come loose,
The field that's famous for its spoofs,
Is physics theoretical.

I've taken undergraduate work
whose content is forgettable;
And graduate work is generally
regarded as regrettable.
The lecturers are all absurd.
A cogent word is never heard.
Insanity afflicts a third
In physics theoretical.

We never do experiments;
we shun the purely practical.
Our best work's done in getting grants;
our budgets are fantastical.
In one respect our motive's pure:
Though funding fails, we still endure -
We make darn sure our job's secure
In physics theoretical.

Our scientific breakthroughs are,
to say the least, debatable.
We laugh at critics haughtily;
our egos are inflatable.
The rest of science goes along,
Because our last defense is strong:
It's hard to prove we're ever wrong
In physics theoretical.

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