Last week, I listened to a discussion on NPR’s Science Friday about the origins of the universe. (My dad was a physicist, and I’ve always had an abiding interest in the sciences.) Apparently, there now is a theory that states there were actually multiple Big Bangs, resulting in the simultaneous creation of multiple universes. All these separate universes are supposedly like bubbles nestled together in a big bubble bath. Personally, I think it’s probably more like the colored plastic balls nestled in the ball pit at McDonald’s, because I find the universe to smell increasingly of old dried pee.
What gives with these physicists that dream up all these wacky ideas? They kept saying during the radio show that “this is what the math told them”. I get that physicists rely on math to prove their theories, but to say that the math within Einstein’s Theory of Relativity “told us about black holes”….I just don’t know how you get there from here, as they say Down East. What would the equation that tells us of black holes look like? It would contain lots of big black zeroes, I would imagine.
I was discussing this issue of physics and math with my twelve year old son and his friend (whose dad is a scientist), and they somehow turned this around and criticized Stephen Hawkings. (Confusing, I know.) Just to annoy them, I told them Hawkings gets all the chicks, but instead they laughed really hard. My life is whacked.
It seems the number of Public Radio shows where they discuss ridiculous physics is on the rise. Earlier this week, the second half of On Point with Tom Ashbrook was about a “lay physicist” trailer park manager in Washington state who’s come up with his own alternate laws of physics which, unlike Einstein’s theories, explain everything. (When you live in a trailer park, explaining everything becomes a survival skill.)
So this TPP (Trailer Park Physicist) had a very different set of ideas from what’s been previously set forth by the world’s greatest physicists. First off, he was not very advanced in math. In fact, it was his belief that it’s really not necessary to use math to explain the various physical laws. The radio reporter actually said, and this was an admittedly poor choice of words on her part, that the TPP was “not into high math”. Yes, it was not his math that he preferred to be high.
Another big accepted physical law that the TPP shoots down (so to speak) is gravity. He said there is no such thing as gravity, at least not as we have always understood it. Rather, what we sense as gravity (and I’m paraphrasing him here) is just “the pressure that stuff exerts on its surroundings because all matter is constantly expanding”. (Obviously, he’s been to Texas!) How this guy knows “matter is constantly expanding” is beyond me. Sounds a lot like some crap churned out by real physicists who knew high math. I suspect TPP is real high a real lot, and his expanding matter statement is an echo-thought of a tidbit he mentally acquired long ago and then partially lost (probably like most of the data in his data-banks, if you know what I mean).
And finally, the reporter spoke with reverence of this modern-day lay-physicist who did experiments right in the trailer park. Why, one could often see large smoke screens coming from his trailer, indicating that new frontiers of physics were being explored. TPP constantly ran these experiments. Wow. I actually said to the radio, “Could you lob this stuff at me any gentler? Really.” Smoke screen experiments coming from a dwelling. Hhmm. I knew I should’ve looked into that grant money while I was still in college.
Look, the brilliant “lay” scientists of old who invented stuff and actually made advances in their fields were smart, knew math, and probably didn’t run meth labs in their double-wide trailers. I am really tired of everyone and their brother saying they are a physicist (or a comedian, for that matter) and then putting forth a bunch of crap I can easily make fun of.
On second thought, I take that last statement back. And I’m sure there’s some high math out there that allows me to do just exactly that.