Fantasies Come True

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Whilst you sit in Butler wishing for a perfect storm to disrupt your finals, take comfort in the fact that such miracles can occur.

This morning, the final exam for Physics V1202 (the second required semester of non-engineering general physics) was interrupted by a real live fire alarm in Pupin.

 Or was it?  A prankster was responsible, reports the FDNY, and security is busy examining grainy camera footage trying to find the culprit.  According to our tipster, the plaza outside Pupin turned into a “circus of cheating,” so upon reentrance, the proctors passed out a “backup midterm” to be completed in the remaining time.

Physics department chair Andrew Millis informed the students that due to the “unusual circumstances,” the final would be weighted less heavily in the final course grades.

It all goes to show that studying doesn’t pay.  Full email after the jump.


Photo via Modern Mechanix

Dear students in V1202,

As you know, a fire alarm occurred during the final examination for PHY V1202. We realize that this unfortunate occurrence added a level of disruption to the already stressful experience of taking a final exam, and are writing to let you know what we are doing in response.

The New York City Fire Department has determined that the fire alarms were “maliciously activated by persons unknown”. Tampering with fire alarms is a serious offense. We are working with campus security to prevent a recurrence and to identify the persons responsible.

Because the security of the exam was compromised by the required building evacuation, an alternative exam was distributed. In determining grades the unusual circumstances and abbreviated nature of the exam will be taken into account , and quizzes, midterms and other work will be weighted more heavily. We are confident that from the information available to us we will be able to arrive at an equitable evaluation of your performance in the course.

The deans and academic advisors of Barnard, Columbia College, General Studies and SEAS have been made aware of the situation and happy to meet with you if you would like to discuss the situation further.

With deep regret for this unfortunate incident,

Andrew Millis

Professor and Chair

Department of Physics

Columbia University

538 West 120th Street

NY NY 10027

email: [email protected]

tel: 212 854 3336

fax: 212 854 3379

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  1. That thing in the picture  

    is a freaking death trap.

  2. (Psst, Bwog...)  

    (it's FDNY)

    Also, that is an amazing contraption.

  3. i hope  

    whoever pulled it gets theirs! that backup final was tricky!

  4. seriously  

    why did i study for that test so much? could've done the same with way less that original test was looking damn easy too

  5. Anonymous  

    I was phys-f*cked this morning.

    • I think  

      I might have to kill whoever this was. The original midterm was much easier than that back-up shit. I fucked it up so bad. But everyone I talked to was having conniption fits about it, so I'm guessing the mean will be relatively low.

  6. ...

    Backup midterm? Don't you mean final?

  7. What happens

    to you if you pull that contraption in a real fire?

  8. Empathetic  

    This also happened during one of the General Chemistry Midterms last semester, though for legitimate reasons (chemistry lab explosions). The class ended up voting on doubling the score of their best midterm grade...yet another example, if one's willing to risk it, of why one shouldn't study so hard for exams.

    • ...  

      i was in that class (valentini). there was no voting, just the announcement of a new midterm date that was uncomfortably close to the end of the term and a comparable new test. it sucked for us because all that prep went to waste (only to be repeated) and it sucked for them because they had to make a new exam.

      sucks for the kids who may have been struggling earlier in the term who were planning to bring things up on the final.

      • Helpful  

        I was actually talking about Professor Parkin's class where there was an online vote afterward, but thanks for being so benevolent as to try to clarify a situation I was actually personally involved in. Classy.

  9. pico  

    keep... checking... every... five minutes... need more... fodder for my... procrastinationnnnnnn

  10. Why  

    didn't they just send a TA to see if it was an actual fire before emptying the room? There was a fire alarm in hamilton during a final last spring and our professor just had us keep going...even when we smelled smoke... Turned out it was someone stupid overzealously burning their notes in the bathroom.

    • might be  

      something about it being illegal to not leave a public building whose fire alarm is sounding. or something about liability if there were actually a fire with not immediately evacuating the building.

      or maybe something about not being such a dumbass as to stay in a combustible building when the fire alarm is going off. can you imagine the obit? "jenny died tragically while taking her lit hum exam because her professor didn't think the fire was real. real smart guy, that college professor"

  11. the kid  

    is fucked. Any academic-cheating violations are dealt with really severely, not to mention the fire-alarm.

  12. I think I know whodunnit  

    brb getting my investigator hat.

  13. yikes

    #12 is right. provided they can figure out who it is, that kid is screwed.

    i'm impressed they had backup midterms ON HAND? is that some kind of standard procedure i'm unaware of?

  14. nope  

    just super shaevitz!

  15. really

    some kid had to pull a fire alarm during the physics 1200 final?

    He/She/It does realize that that's like the easiest of the intro physics sequences right? Good luck your next 3 years.

    • I'm  

      pretty sure that most of the people who take 1202 aren't freshmen, though I could be wrong.

      • yea  

        like 90% or more of 1202 are psycho pre-meds, which (a) could explain why someone felt the impetus to pull the alarm for such a stupid exam and (b) could explain why they had a backup exam

        in the words of a physics teacher i had last semester: "i'm going to go easier on you than i did on the 1200 kids. frankly i hate premeds and just didn't care that i made the course much harder."

        • ah..

          that explains the obviously crazed fire alarm puller who couldn't stand a B on their transcript (oh no! i'll have to go to virginia med!) and the rampant cheating outside, as most physics/engineering majors are too dorky to you know, interact with their classmates or engage in any type of contact with other human beings

          I don't know that a physics teacher would have to try too hard to mess w/the pre meds..i remember a pretty intelligent pre med friend of mine being stumped by vector operations

          • chillax  

            Yeah, that class is definitely full of neurotic premeds. The physics sequence is usually taken during the senior year by premeds. My theory is that somebody freaked out after looking though the exam, and, being a senior, decided he/she had no other option but to pull the freakin fire alarm. These are desperate times for seniors. The ironic part is that if they find out who it is then that person is noottt going to graduate. I personally thought that the backup final was waaaay easier than the actual final.
            Also, there is something seriously wrong about your professor making you continue your final, upon smelling the smoke.

  16. holy shit  

    i cannot wrap my mind around that picture

  17. alternative  

    is the wrong word. alternate is what the physics teacher should have said

  18. The dumbest  

    thing about it was that the TAs TOLD US TO BRING OUR EXAMS WITH US DURING THE ALARM! I really didn't understand that...

  19. LOLZ  

    we need to bring back the ol' fire box trap back. how's that for zero tolerance?!

  20. a seas kid  

    honestly? 1202? how easy can you get? whoever pulled the alarm to get out of that test has serious learning issues, and, if they become a doctor, should never care for anyone. Observe:

    "oh shit, he's got lupus; how to avoid situation!?"

    solution: sprain ankle and get nurse practitioner to do it.

  21. LOLZ  

    conniption fits? who the fuck says that?

  22. PHYS 1200

    Is taken by SEAS freshmen who have little to no physics background. If you can't compete with them after 3-4 years of college, you are truly pathetic.

    PHYS 2800 though, now there's a class worth weeping over.

  23. what happens  

    if there's actually a fire and the fireman can't get your hand out of the trap in time? that woman would stand there smiling as the flames devoured her. awkward.

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