Posts Tagged ‘physics’

Gaiety

June 12, 2012

“But…”
“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.”

Experiment

February 23, 2012

It’s official: special relativity was a mistake.

Today it emerged that a thorough check of the equipment used by Messrs Michelson and Morley in their now famous experiment revealed tiny specks of dirt on one of the mirrors.

While many phantasists were understandably disappointed on hearing the news, not everyone is sad to see Einstein’s theory toppled.

‘Thankfully, sanity prevailed,’ said one physicist who wishes to stay anonymous. ‘As pretty as Einstein’s theory was mathematically, the notion of a non-absolute time would’ve gone against all the great progress we had been making in modern physics.’

‘Now that we’ve finally put this ridiculous E=mc2 business behind us, we will see the beginning of a new, glorious era of luminiferous aether-based technology’, he concluded.

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?”
“Yes.”
“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.”
“Okay.”
“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.”

Tipping Point

August 10, 2009

Physicists never cease to amaze me. Not only will they spend time, money and a lot of effort on pursuing such important matters as why a spaghetti never breaks in two, they will go even further.

Whereas a mathematician would be more than happy to reduce a problem to an already solved one and spend the rest of the afternoon drinking coffee and trying to prove Goldbach’s conjecture, a physicist will not stop just because something is proven to be impossible.

Take cow-tipping, for example. It’s a well-known fact that it is impossible to sneak up on a sleeping cow and tip it over for the simple reason that cows don’t sleep upright. They just don’t.

Luckily Matt Semke showed us using sophisticated rigid-body modelling that a single human would be unable to exert a force big enough to perform this prank even if they did. (Although two might stand a chance.)

There are two things that are worth noting here.
1. Whatever scientific career Matt Semke has had since or will have in the future, he will forever be famous as “the cow-tipping guy”.
2. Observe the picture labelled “Back View of Cow”. I admire the accuracy with which the author managed to grasp and convey to us the very essence of cowness (or is it cowdom?)

There’s only one thing I don’t understand about the whole subject. What’s all that fuss about fly-tipping then?

To be honest, I could’ve also gone the other way around, starting out with fly-tipping and how disgusting it is to throw your waste around and whatnot, then close it with this rather cheap pun in reverse. It would’ve been more gruesome as well, describing how they’d chuck a cow into a ditch out of the window of a speeding Ford Fiesta.

Er…I’m afraid I’ve ruined the punchline somewhat with this informational remark. It’s a good job it wasn’t very good anyway.