Some things occur to me

First, I’d like to address you, Stephen Hawking. Why does there have to be a unifying theory of everything? I mean, you and I haven’t had the chance to have a really good sit-down lately to talk about this stuff, but I’m asking you because you probably know the answer and can express it without my having to go back to school for 18 years to figure out what you’ve said. Although, if I were a theoretical physicist, that is the ONLY way I would communicate, because by the time folks figured out what the hell you were talking about, all the music would have changed and people would be wearing their underpants fully on the outside of their trousers. 

Anyway, right. Unifying theory of everything. Why does there have to be one? Why *should* one single principle explain all the weird things that happen in our universe? So what if some electrons move all wiggly and some move all straight? Why can’t we be happy with a theory of wiggly sub-atomic motion and a theory of not-so-wiggly sub-atomic motion? Probably part of the problem is that physicists are always trying to answer things so definitively. Which is fine, I guess, if you like that sort of thing. But let me tell you, the day we learned about wave motion with slinkys out in the hall in front of Mr. Jmaeff’s physics class (he liked this particular exercise because it was VERY LOUD and disturbed all the biology classes. Biology being a lesser field, barely even related to science, he would say), a little bit of magic got lost. Sure, there was a *new* kind of magic to learn, and watching something work and wondering ‘why’ is awesome…but still, having that story rewritten was a little distressing to the me who loved the original story. 

On the other hand, the new story includes way cool things like string theory (which I find a little intoxicating) for which there still are no concrete answers. I want this book, f’rinstance…

I heard an interview with a bunch of theoretical physicists (what’s the collective noun for a bunch of theoretical physicists, anyway? An Event Horizon of theoretical physicists? A Schroedinger of theoretical physicists? A Boson of theoretical physicists? help me out here, peeps) wherein they were saying that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity has been disproved. The interviewer was Quite Dismayed at this suggestion, but the physicists were Very Excited, because this meant that they could now move on to Other Things. An Unifying Theory of Everything, f’rinstance, that would explain and unify all of the ways every aspect of nature functions (it would explain how gravity, nuclear force, and electromagnetic force would all be related to each other). Once armed with such a Theory, physicists (and, eventually, one would assume, everyday blokes armed with some graph paper and a slide rule) would be able to determine the outcome of any experiment. Kinda. 

Where’s the fun in that!? How boring would it be to have a room full of people in white coats all surmising the same thing, and then being all smug when they’re proved right? 

On a completely unrelated note, have you ever had the urge to just say :  “the reason you’re arguing against this position is that you’re a jerk”? Because I had that urge today. Twice. Well, maybe three times. But I didn’t say it. I just thought it *really loud*. And then wrote it down here. 

And another thing. 

Suggestions for a Happy Best Day of the Year celebration for Yours Truly are hereby being entertained. Suggestions so far are: bowling, velcro wall, and The Beach.

  9 comments for “Some things occur to me

  1. BPM IV
    7 June 2010 at 1:40 pm

    The big problem in physics (as I understand it) is that there is a base formula for the itty-bitty stuff and another formula for stuff in space that’s being measured.

    If physics are constant and equal, you should be able to just swap equations. But you can’t. So one of them is wrong. Or they both are.

    Or, worse, they’re both right.

    And I’d suggest beach bowling.

  2. 7 June 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Black Pope Marlon is correct – the problem lies entirely in the way that the math for the motion of things on the ‘you and me and planets and stars’ scale does NOT work to explain how subatomic particles behave.

    Until that disconnect gets resolved, it will keep making scientists feel all itchy.

    I’m sure there are lots of cool things we might have now, like flying cars and talking toasters, if we could get past this problem.

    • 7 June 2010 at 8:45 pm

      Well that’s just great. But why do they NEED a unifying theory? Why can’t they just be happy with the Theory of Big Things and the Little Things Theorem?

      They can get calamine lotion for the itch.

  3. simon
    7 June 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I think it’s a “quotient of theoretical physicists”, or “orthonormality of theoretical physicist irreducible representation matricies” depending on whether your speak to or about the theoretical physicists…

    • 7 June 2010 at 8:50 pm

      Oohhhhh.

      I don’t speak to a whole lot of theoretical physicists. Apparently, I make them itchy.

  4. Mrgd2u
    14 June 2010 at 10:36 am

    It is strange to hear this kind of arguement from someone who believes in an all-powerful deity…

  5. Awesome Possum
    20 June 2010 at 10:29 am

    The important question is. How will this unifying theory improve my DnD? Will I get an extra feat out of it or will I have a million hit points and maximum charisma?

    • 20 June 2010 at 10:31 am

      That is a Really Good Question.
      You know. we’ve already tried a Theory of Everything in D&D. It was called the d20 system…

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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