Nov

19

13 Comments

  1. Nooooooo  

    How could Newton have died a virgin?! If the nerd God couldn't get laid, what hope do we have?

  2. Newton's laws

    That's pretty incredible. I didn't think it was really even possible.

  3. Newton's laws

    This puts Newtonian physics in a whole different light for me.

  4. yeah  

    but really the question should be why does the spec have a completely random column devoted to high-school level explanations of basic physics? i watch bill nye for these facts. i watch bill nye? shit. i'm gonna die a virgin.

  5. DHI  

    Armin were you playing Madden with old teams yesterday?

    Because the old Bucs helmets were indeed awesome.

  6. Martin Amis

    Fully two out of the six authors on the syllabus for Nick Dames' Victorian Novel class - Charlotte Bronte, Thomas Hardy - never got laid either. Does reading "Fear of Physics" make anyone else want to gouge out their eyeballs with brooches either? Seriously, this discussion is the best thing to ever come out of it.

  7. what a

    swashbuckler! wow, they don't make helmet logos like that anymore. looks like a fabulous cross between Ruffeo and Westley from The Princess Bride.

  8. alc

    Bill Nye hit on my high school biology teacher. He is 20 years her senior. Probably trying to not die a virgin. Needless to say, she didn't have sex with him.

  9. fear of physics  

    It's not that the young lady is a bad writer...she's not at all...and her column would fit nicely into some mainstream pop science magazines. But they all suffer from the same problem, which is that you quickly reach a point where it's impossible to have a meaningful discussion about physics without a proper math and science background. The real bs begins when you start to discuss _interpretations_ of the physics when you don't even understand it, so you end up making statements that are completely and profoundly wrong without realizing it, like in this most recent article. But I guess it would be too much to have a science major write the science column.

  10. physics

    I just gave it a quick re-read, and I don't see the factual errors that you're implying. As a general rule, such philosophical discussions of physics are always written in broad terms, and, if well-written, they always add a poetic "spice" to the physics that isn't there in the first place. But in this case, I don't think that effects the accuracy of the presentation. Sure, it is impossible to appreciate physics without the math background. Talking about physics without math is like talking about literature without language. That said, a column addressing the intricacies of quantum gravity, or the latest science run at Fermilab, would have an extremely small audience.

  11. Yes

    Ok. The description of quantum mechanics is faulty. You're right. But a multi-part series explaining the basics of the standard interpretation would find few interested readers, and is more fitting for a chapter of a book than a short essay.

  12. foph  

    You make some good points, and I certainly am inclined to agree with them.

    I think I didn't express myself clearly...I wasn't saying that one should write popsci columns that include math, or any sort of formalism for that matter. What I meant to say was that writers who understand the underlying science do a much better job explaining the concepts in plain language, as opposed to talented writers who don't, like the writer of this column.

    A great example of the former category is Richard Feynman...after reading articles of his where he doesn't use any word more complicated than "electron," I often find a more profound appreciation and understanding of the physics involved, even if I've completed a college course in the subject.

    check this out:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=94310755364160999&q=feynman+youtube&total=95&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

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