Whether you were the kind of college student who sat in the front row, dutifully taking notes, or the kind who sat in the back and slept through every lecture, we are almost certain you never sat through a class like this one.
Emlyn Hughes, a physics professor at Columbia University who teaches an undergraduate course called “Frontiers of Science,” started a quantum mechanics lecture with a terrifying stunt, according to campus publications Bwog and the Columbia Daily Spectator.
While Lil Wayne’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” plays in the dimly-lit room, Hughes slowly takes off his clothes until he’s standing in his underwear. Then he puts on new garb, dressing from head to toe in black — like a ninja. He curls up in the fetal position while an accomplice — also clad in black — places stuffed animals on stools and blindfolds them. Another ninja emerges with a sword and stabs one of the creatures.
Meanwhile, a big screen shows video of the September 11th attacks, Osama bin Laden, Adolf Hitler, and Nazi Germany.
“In order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain, and start over again,” Hughes says in the video.
But some students believe Hughes has more explaining to do. As Maura Barry-Garland ’16 told the Columbia Daily Spectator:
“He didn’t explain it or provide a context, and that’s why it was offensive to me and to other people…This is a school in New York…I’m sure lots of people have personal connections to what happened here on 9/11, or have family members who died during World War II.”
The professor’s performance may not be the hardest thing his students will have to comprehend this year. In a 2010 interview, Hughes told Columbia College Today that a typical exam score in his introductory physics courses is 65%.
(MORE: Academia Takes on Internet Memes)