Introducing Jen Jones CPN, certified professional nuclear physicist


Hi, I’m Jen Jones, CPN, MA, PsD, a certified professional nuclear physicist (CPN).

I know what you’re thinking: a real nuclear physicist needs a PhD (instead of a PsD), must have spent years at a super expensive school like MIT and has to work in a place like Los Alamos in New Mexico where they built the atomic bomb. That’s what most nuclear physicists want you to think. The truth is that you can be a certified professional nuclear physicist, train by apprenticeship and work at home.

Atoms are totally natural. They have been around for the entire 6,000 years that the world has existed. Human beings have ALWAYS been made of atoms. Smash ’em together and you get energy. What more does anyone need to know?

[pullquote align=”right” color=””]I found out about Schrodinger’s cat and everyone who knows me knows I am totally a cat person.[/pullquote]

Certified professional nuclear physicists (aka lay nuclear physicists) are experts in uncomplicated atoms, like hydrogen and helium. We leave those super duper fancy elements made with interventions (like Einsteinium, Californium and Fermium) to the MIT crowd. They use unnatural interventions to make new atoms. They refuse to let a natural process unfold over tens of thousands of years because they have to get to their golf games.

Nuclear physics is a calling for me. As I researched atoms for my high school physics class (which I flunked), I found what I can only describe as “signs” that the universe intended that I be a lay nuclear physicist.

First there was the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. People who know me say I’m a bit of a ditz; I have so much trouble making up my mind. That uncertainty principle describes me to a T.

Then I found out about Schrodinger’s cat and I am totally a cat person.

Finally, I learned that there is a thing called “chaos theory.” If you’ve ever seen my kitchen, you know that I am an expert in chaos.

I learned all this stuff on Google, and other people could, too, if they bothered to educate themselves.

You probably think you have to know math to be a nuclear physicist, but that is so not true. There’s only one equation, and it has only one number in it: E=mc2. How hard is that for someone like me who was always good at the alphabet?

What does it mean? If you were educated like me, you would know that is means that energy equals mass (that’s physics-speak for weight) times the speed of light (how fast it takes you to flip a light switch) squared (that’s the same as “times 2”). I was never very good at higher math (the 5 times tables and above), but I’m really good at “times 2.” Anyways, E=mc2 tells you how much more energetic you could be if you smashed atoms together as fast as you can switch on a light.

I’m incredibly proud of my credentials, so proud in fact that I had them monogrammed on my towels. I have an CPN (certified professional nuclear physicist) PLUS I did advanced apprenticeship for my MA (mastering the alphabet), and (I’m most proud of this) my PsD (doctor of pseudoscience).

I bet you think it took me lots of hours a week for many years to get all these degrees. Nope, I really couldn’t give it much time since I’m a MAMA (that’s not a degree; it just means mom). Fortunately, you can get any of these credentials through self-study. Then you apprentice with another lay nuclear physicist. Those requirements are pretty rigorous. You have to watch her at least 20 times to learn how to turn on a light as fast as possible. Then you have to be the primary person to turn on the light another 20 times.

And that’s not all. You have to do independent research, at home of course. My project? Well everyone knows that energy comes from busting atoms apart (that’s “fission” in physics-speak). My project was to make my husband more energetic so he would do more chores around the house. He’s pretty lazy, doesn’t have a job and just sits around guzzling beer all day. I gave him more energy by repeatedly whacking his head with a big stick. Smashing the atoms in his head with the stick gave him so much energy that he has moved out and all the way across the country.

My friend has been trying to make her husband even more energetic than mine using atomic fusion (that’s physics-speak for smashing atoms together to make bigger atoms). She tried squishing her husband’s head in a vise to see if she could make the atoms in his head fuse. It didn’t work; he died. But hey, people die when nuclear physicists are around (they don’t call them atom bombs for nothing).

The key to being a great certified professional nuclear physicist is to EDUCATE yourself and not just blindly accept what those pinheads at MIT have to say. You have just as much right to do research with your own atoms as they have to do research with theirs.

Education never stops. Even though I have all those fancy degrees, I’m going to a special seminar at Los Alamos next month to learn more. No, not at the nuclear facilities in Los Alamos; I’m going to a Farm outside of Los Alamos where the greatest lay nuclear physicist of them all, Ima Frawde, will lead us in meditating on the beauty of Schrodinger’s cat. Best of all: we’ll be getting new letters to put after our names, CLNE, certified lay nuclear physicist educator. I’ll have to re-monogram all my towels, but it will be so worth it.


This piece first appeared in September 2011.