Being an equation-writer-for-hire May 15, 2006Posted by apetrov in Near Physics.
I like reading phyiscs blogs. People talk about different things, some of them are interesting, some are not — real life, right? Here is the post I recently read in one of my favorite blogs, Cosmic Variance: it is called "Theoretical Physics Goes Corporate." One of the points that they raise in that post is that big corporations are starting to realize the power of mathematical equations as a commercial tool — it attracts customers! One of the ads that Clifford Johnson (one of the four CV contributers) has in mind is this:
What is interesting about this ad is the equations that this lady is writing — they look like the equations from the famous Peskin and Schroeder's book on Quantum Field Theory (QFT) , equations describing renormalization of phi^4 theory! How did Ford get a hold of them?
As it turns out, I happen know the answer. This ad was made by a company that is headquatered in Detroit — I have a business card of one of the authors of this ad!
What happened is that a couple of months ago I was sitting in my office at Wayne State University, looking over my QFT notes that I’m supposed to teach next Fall. A guy showed up at my door and asked to “write down a complicated-looking equation.” Now, that’s not a usual question that I get when I sit in my office during the lunchtime! He quickly explained that he works for this advertisement company (called JWT) and they were contracted by Ford to produce a series of ads that should highlight the talent of Ford engineers and at the same time appeal to young people. (He showed me a prototype of an ad with that girl sitting next to the blackboard.) So his boss sent him to the closest university (which happen to be WSU, we are located 5 min down Woodward Avenue from their office) to fish out a “complicated equation.” The rest is simple — I use Peskin and Schroeder as a main text for my course, so that list of equations was indeed about renormalization of phi^4 theory… I must add that I received no monetary (or any other) compensation…
Amazing, isn’t it?