Wednesday 2 October 2013

What Theoretical Physicists Don't Tell You

    "If you see the chemistry department running away from something then you should try to keep up.  If you see the theoretical physics department running away from something, there's probably not much point."

 Clearly, physicists are evil. Their closely guarded knowledge is kept away from the general public and shrouded in secrecy, lest we mere mortals realise how little they actually know, or find out what they're up to.  So, for the first time, I expose their web of hidden knowledge.

They Use A Secret Language

Physics is full of properties with cosy, familiar sounding names. Particles have properties like colour, flavour and spin, even "energy", despite nobody observing so much as an aura around a particle.  None of these things are related to what these words actually mean in everyday life. They can't have a colour, because we can't even see them (and they're far smaller than the visible wavelength of light anyway). They don't have a flavour, because you don't see quark flavoured ice-cream.  OK, there is a cheese called quark, but that's just pedantry.  There's nothing grave about gravity, relativity has nothing to do with your family tree and the word "quantum" can be applied to anything you want to sound impressive.  It's all one big cover up for something or other.

"Maths, Or It Didn't Happen"

To make their tinkering with language even more obscure, and in an attempt to exclude the social science department and those pesky "ethics committees", physicists shroud their most simple theories in complicated mathematics, meaning anyone who wants to understand it has to do the equivalent of a university maths degree!  That's a whole degree in an entirely different subject!  Do vets have to do a law degree? Do geologists need to learn marketing? Again, it's an ugly big conspiracy designed to confuse.

Take, for example, the equation that helped kick-start quantum theory:

E = hf

E is energy, and f is frequency.  When Max Planck was investigating the relationship between them he found they weren't equal, so he just made up a number, called it h, and stuck it in there to fudge the equation.  And for that he gets a so called "constant" named after him.

They're Usually Wrong

Most physics is wrong! It's a dirty little secret they don't let on to.  Take, for example, the first physicist, Sir Isaac Newton. His "triumphant" theory of gravity is wrong!  Entirely wrong! It turns out it only works when you're not moving.  Physicists will bleat on about it being the limit of relativity as the field and velocities tend to zero, but what they mean is it only works perfectly in situations where there's no gravity and nothing moves, which is pretty useless for a theory of gravity.

Basically, all physics prior to relativity and quantum theory, which is everything prior to about 1920, is wrong (they'll claim it's an "accurate estimate" or "limit condition", but it's still wrong).  That's 1,920 wasted years!

Physicists also react joyfully when a long established theory is shown to be wrong, and happily replace it with yet another fudged equation and made-up words.  Admitting you're wrong is no way to gain credibility, even if the evidence says you are wrong.  Imagine if politics worked like this - it would be chaos.

They Invented Nuclear Bombs

Yes, possibly the most damning evidence of all.  Physicists from all over the world bear direct responsibility for whatever politicians do with nuclear weapons.  The politicians, clearly, are blameless - they don't know enough of the complicated maths stuff to understand exactly what a nuclear bomb will do.

Many of the greatest names in physics, Oppenheimer, Feynman and many others, conspired during the Second World War to create a weapon that could destroy the world.  The fact that the German military were trying to make one of their own is no excuse, everybody knows two wrongs don't make a right, and the autobiographies and interviews with all of the participants shows they all knew what they were building and all understood just how horrific the weapon would be.  Oppenheimer himself quoted the Bhagavad Gita after seeing the first test - "Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds."  If that's not gloating I don't know what is.  I'm pretty sure he added "Mwahahaha!" after he said it.

Ignoring the weapons aspect, this research was also instrumental in developing nuclear power (evil), furthering theoretical physics (evil) and radiotherapy treatments for cancer (evil).

They shouldn't have done it, that's blatantly clear. After all, there's a reasonable chance that we'd have beaten the Nazis before they developed their own.

Further Reading:

[1] xkcd 669, "Physics professors don't like working in frictionless vacuums after all, they're such liars."

[2] Abstruse Goose 406, "Bastard theoretical physicists, how do you sleep at night?"


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