Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Science Made Stupid

    Newton's Laws

    Isaac Newton also used direct observation to formulate his laws.

    Newton was in government service for many years. His first law states:

    * A body at rest tends to remain at rest, while a body in motion at a constant velocity in a straight line tends to continue in that motion.

    Clearly, this law is based on first-hand observation of a bureaucracy in action.

    One night, Newton became engaged in a heated argument at a local bar over a question of epicycles, leading him to punch his opponent in the nose. After being thoroughly worked over, Newton comtemplated the results and announced his next law:

    * Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

    In a well-known story, Newton discovered gravity when he was hit on the head while sitting under an apple tree. This tale is, of course, fictitious. It was actually a fig tree, and the result was his best-known theory:

    * I bet you could make a swell cookie out of these figs.


You can read more of Tom Weller's 1986 Hugo Award winner Science Made Stupid here.

I especially like his chapter on the Earth. At last, someone ties in Shakespeare with atmospheric dynamics. But this chart of geological periods is disturbingly similar to one I marked in a recent exam. I wish I were making that up.
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Hat tip to dark* :)

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