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The Greatest Mystery of Our Time

In our pursuit for a theory of everything, there has been one mystifying problem that has failed to capture the imagination of many physicists, the mystery of how PhySoc’s magazine came to be named ‘Jeremy’. Some have postulated that it was named after Messel’s crocodile while others believe the scientific evidence points clearly towards Jeremy Rutherford, second cousin to Ernest Rutherford. With the utmost scientific rigour, this article will weigh the evidence of the top theories of the origin of "Jeremy".


The Theory of Messel's Crocodile

While few of us reading this will have had the privilege of knowing the late Prof. Harry Messel, most of us have relished in attending our first-year lectures in the spectacular Messel lecture theatre before being shunned to the dusty physics building. Harry Messel was the head of the School of Physics for 35 years (appointed in 1952). Out of all the sensational things Messel has done for physics; it was his advocacy for endangered crocodile and alligator conservation which gave rise to the theory of Messel’s crocodile. Part of his work involved attaching transmitters to crocodiles in northern Australia for tracking. The archives of Jeremy editions from 1986 reveal THIS!

Some say the radio transmitter attached to the croc still to this day transmits “Jeremy” over and over again. Could this be a coincidence? I think not. The only logical conclusion for the iconic ‘Jeremy’ croc is that Jeremy was the name of Messel’s crocodile.


The Physics vs Philosophy Theory

Some say that ‘Jeremy’ was named after philosopher Jeremy Bentham, the founder of modern utilitarianism. However, opponents to this theory say that there is no way a physicist would willingly name a physics magazine after a philosopher. How outrageous!

The only reasonable explanation for this theory is that a philosopher conjured it up to try and wriggle their way back into PhySoc which decided a long time ago that physics is superior to philosophy.


The Rutherford Theory

The Rutherford Theory is the oldest standing theory, first devised in 1986 to explain the birth of ‘Jeremy’ after PhySoc had returned from a three-year long hiatus. The physicists who resurrected PhySoc decided that the previous magazine name, “the Physoc rag”, was so “mindbogglingly dull” that it could “only be attributed to the work of a theoretical physicist”. It was decided a new name, preferably related to a physicist, would be an astronomical improvement. So, Jeremy was born and the first edition in 1986 claims that the magazine was named after Jeremy Rutherford, a faithful ticket collector on the London Underground and second cousin to Ernest Rutherford.

The original Jeremy banner from 1986!

However, critics of this theory state that there is little evidence that Jeremy Rutherford ever existed and therefore propose this to be a cover up of the true origins of the name ‘Jeremy’.


The Spontaneous Creation Theory

This final theory is by far the most difficult to disprove (so yes, not a very good theory). It states that someone just came up with ‘Jeremy’ in a random and spontaneous way and all other theories exist only to distract from this fact.

That means that in parallel universes, Jeremy is just as likely to be called “Angela” or “Montgomery”.


Sarah & Connor





The Jeremy Quotes Competition is back! Send us the best/worst quotes you've heard your lecturers say here.


Interested in writing (or making jokes) about the latest in physics? Let us know at jeremy.physoc@gmail.com

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