Posts Tagged ‘family’


June 12, 2012

“I don’t want to hear you mentioning the M-word again!”
“But why, dad?”
“It’s not natural.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look, it’s like light and dark, right? Things have to come in pairs.”
“But isn’t dark just the absence of light?”
“Night and day then, you cheeky sod. One can’t exist without the other. They were made to appear together.”
“By whom?”
“That’s not important. The only thing important is duality. Together they represent completeness. You can’t fit two Yin’s together, only a Yin and a Yang.”
“But couldn’t you just rotate a Yin and…”
“No, you couldn’t, young sir. And don’t ask me why, it’s because I said so.”
“But Ettore Majorana said…”
“I don’t care what loony Italian physicists say. When you live in your own house, you can do whatever you want in it but in my house I’m not having any particles that are their own antiparticles, so switch that cooling unit off and put your superconductors away.”


February 16, 2012

So, oxytocin isn’t the universal love hormone everyone (let’s be honest, mostly hippies) expected it to be. It turns out that in some cases it can amplify envy, schadenfreude, even xenophobia.

Of course this comes as no surprise to anyone who’s ever heard a sentence starting with “Speaking as a mother…”

Almost Everywhere

November 16, 2010

‘Dad, I’ve lost my mobile phone, you have to buy me a new one!’
‘Are you sure you’ve really lost it? They don’t grow on trees, you know.’
‘I looked almost everywhere and I can’t find it.’
‘Have you looked in your room?’
‘I see, I see. Now then, if I listed every single place on Earth I can name, would I get a different answer?’
‘But you said you did look almost everywhere.’
‘I did, dad. Honest. Almost everywhere.’
‘Well, in that case I’ll almost surely buy you a new one.’

Quantum Fields Forever

January 18, 2010

“Dad, can I go outside and play football?”
“Have you cleaned up your room yet?”
“Yes, dad.”
“Clothes AND toys?”
“But properly this time, I hope.”
“Yes, dad.”
“No more silly excuses?”
“No, dad.”
“No more second law of thermodynamics?”
“No, dad.”
“Good. We’ve already proven that your room doesn’t constitute an isolated system, and even when you’re grounded, we give you more than enough low-entropy food to act as a local Maxwell’s-demon.”
“Yes, dad.”
“Alright, I’m going to check.”
“So what are all those things doing on the floor then, young sir? There are hundreds of them.”
“They’re nothing.”
“I beg your pardon? I can clearly see they are Lego bricks ”
“They’re just inevitable fluctuations in the emptiness of the room. They’re virtual.”
“So basically you’ve done nothing all afternoon, you haven’t packed any of your toys.”
“No, dad, I spent all that time renormalising. There would’ve been an infinite number of them in the room without it.”

Dark Matters

August 22, 2009

“Dad, can I go out and play football?”
“Have you done your homework yet?”
“Then bring it to me, I want to check.”
“Erm, alright. Here it is.”
“Is that it?”
“A couple of inkblots on a scrap of paper?”
“And a letter ‘a’. The rest is invisible, you know.”
“No, as a matter of fact it’s completely undetectable by any means of physical observation. But you can infer its existence indirectly by subtracting the mass of ink used up in the blots and the letter ‘a’ from the amount missing from the pen.”
“It’s still just a scrap of paper though, where’s the rest of your exercise book?”
“That’s invisible too.”
“Is it? Without a doubt there is an indirect way to prove its existence.”
“Of course not, don’t be childish. I merely postulated it.”

And that’s why it isn’t a good idea to teach kids cosmology.