Professional Research Career: How long can I get away with irreverence?

On Thursday I gave a presentation in my high-energy astrophysics class on black hole thermodynamics; I concluded it with an explanation of Hawking radiation and black hole evaporation, sung to the tune of “Turkey in the Straw”.

That’s how I treat presentations: like performances. I’m a first-year grad student, and so far, it’s been a great success. Really, the typical mode of presenting information that you get in academia and professional research is not my style. Surely this can’t last forever, though. Will I be able to defend my thesis in anapestic tetrameter? Present a AAS keynote lecture as a Jedi Knight? Submit a letter to the Astrophysical Journal with comical endnotes? How much of this nonsense is tolerated?

It would seem to me that as long as your facts are solid your methods are fine. You might irritate some people, but as long as your theories and information are unassailable and well thought out they can’t argue with you. Just don’t kick anyone doing a high-energy dance routine while juggling torches and singing about the expansion of the universe.

Hey, astrophysics is a dangerous job; they knew what they were getting into. :wink: Seriously, though, thanks for your tip. I think I’ll keep it up until I get a negative reaction.

The ‘proof’ will be in the pudding. If your classes don’t all decide to drop astrophysics and rather all maintain a keen interest and pass with flying colours, I’d keep doing what you are doing. It sounds great btw. The subjects I hold most interest in are those that have the most entertaining lecturers regardless of the content…and I can imagine astrophysics could be rather a bland old topic of study (especially in the introductory-type classes).

Presentations ARE performances. Some send the audience to sleep, some grab you by the goolies and impart the sort of enthusiasm of which you speak. Find the style that works for YOU, and go with it.

The only thing I would worry about is submitting papers to an academic journal with funny endnotes. Getting published is difficult enough with some of those stuffy and parochial old editors. If you are a newbie to the game, it might be better to wait until you have some more creds up your sleeve before you start exercising a more novel approach.
Good luck though!