Thursday, 2 September 2010

How to be a famous Scientist

Physics once meant British Physics – Newton, Faraday etc. Upright geniuses!!

This was before godless foreigners, including the Americans, turned Physics into science fiction.

Germans of course were the start of the problem. As a booby prize for losing the war (officially at least), well, the one before that as well (officially at least), everyone took seriously their claim that a cat in a box is neither alive nor dead until you look at it. This is quantum physics, invented by Germans.

The booby prize was made ultra special by getting everyone outside Germany to accept that the reason that doesn’t make sense to them, is because they’re dumb, and not intelligent like the Germans.

Then there’s Einstein, cocky wolf in humble sheep’s clothing.  He said you shouldn’t believe anything unless you can explain it to a child. Well, try telling this to a seven year old child “Hi, did you know that if your twin brother were shot off to space in a rocket, which then turned round, and came back twenty years later, when he comes out of the spaceship, he’d be eight years old and you’d be twenty. It’s all because of the acceleration he went through at each end – even if it was slower than you can take off on your bike.”.

If the seven year old then humours you and asks “How do you know?” try explaining to him that we know this is true because waves which are not waves and particles which are not particles have not done what people, who think that a shot cat isn’t dead until you look at it, think the waves, well, not waves, and particles, well, not particles, would do in a jam jar.

Unsurprisingly, physicists can’t actually agree on what theory says should happen in the simplest of thought experiments.

Take the case of the rod shooting over a slit in the table, where the rod and the slit are the same length if placed stationary side by side.  According to the genius Einstein, the rod would think the slit is shorter (so you'd think it wouldn't drop through), and the slit would think the rod is shorter (so you'd think it would drop through).

Hardly surprising then that some scientists say the rod wouldn't fall through and others say it would - some university physicists would tell you the rod bends into the hole .  Hardly surprising, when you have a paradox, that people argue different things.  Most importantly, when you can argue anything it’s hardly surprising that the theory fits the observations!!

From a paradox anything can be argued (as Aristotle famously pointed out).

As Professor Herbert Dingle, Bernard Levin's hero pointed out, "relativity has been accepted for so long despite its clear untenability.".

Now the reason foreigners were able to come up with such stuff is that Physics hit an impasse over a hundred years ago.  Suddenly everything stopped making sense where the very fast or the very small was concerned. It became a complete mystery as to what is really really going on in the universe or in the atom.

As we didn’t know what is really going on, this meant that British Physics, a serious subject, became stuck.  After all, it might even be impossible to encompass all physical laws using mathematics, or a finite number of mathematical sentences. In fact, why should it be?  All the upright, honest, British scientists who believed in God came out and said  "We're stuck".  

Foreigners and Americans of course had no qualms about making it all up as they go along. In fact you can’t get anywhere in Britain unless you joined them.

You’ll know this is true if you did ‘O’ Level Physics. You’ll remember you were told that if you were solving a quadratic expression to find the mass of a billiard ball, then you’ll get two solutions and you reject the negative one. You don’t say you’ve just discovered negative mass and apply for a Nobel Prize!

Well, not until you become a ‘real’ scientist. For example in ‘The large scale structure of space-time’ Stephen Hawking co-wrote, there is an example of several solutions to an equation. Each solution happens to be a universe! The book then suggests that we might be able to travel to other universes! If you wrote in your ‘O’ Level exam that the billiard ball has a sibling of negative mass and as we can't see it, it must be in another universe, you’d fail. If you were a real scientist, however, you’d get away with it.

You’d be famous !

NB This post is not to say that we can't use mathematical systems, however unaesthetic (developed by foreigners you see), to make successful predictions we couldn't before.  That is, as long as we don't act like mental patients who think maths and the physical world are the same thing and we restrict ourselves to the testable rather than the SF.  But being able to make predictions in this manner just shows further that we haven't the clue what is really going on.

1 comment:

  1. Dr G just called me and said he didn't understand a word of this - didn't think it was real social science.