Thursday, March 02, 2006

In which the Meridian reads something that undims his understanding a bit

Perhaps some of you clicked on the second and third links to 3 Quarks Daily pieces that I posted here a few days ago and, if you're like me, you said something along the lines of a) "huh??" or b) Am I just dumb, or am I missing something here? Well: Cosmic Variance, a group blog much in the same genre as 3 Quarks but with a bit more of a science orientation (all the writers are physicists), seeks to explain all here. It's clearly written, has some equations thrown in "to make it look like science," and--the clincher--involves a cute sleeping puppy whom we're oh-so-carefully trying not to awaken.

Whenever I hear or read accounts of quantum mechanics, where things break down for me is something akin to what Copernicus must have felt like while trying to avoid excommunication: that what's being described runs pretty much diametrically opposite to what one's perceptions and observations "tell" one is going on. In the case of the Cosmic Variance piece, I'm happy to say, the problem is not with the writing but with a language and mindset that (still, after 700 years) tells me the sun is rising.

(a most appreciative hat-tip to SB of Watermark)

UPDATE: For another in that room-for-growth-I'm-sure subgenre of writing that is the 20th-century-physics-explained-using-cute-furry-animals subgenre, see Jennifer Gresham's poem, "Explaining Relativity to the Cat," linked to here (scroll down to the entry for 3 February).

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1 comment:

Winston said...

Thanks! That certainly clears it up for me... Only one problem with it ... my puppy like salad ... lettuce, spinach, even asparagus and broccoli! Strange beast!