September 5, 2010

Science and Hinckleys

IF YOU CAN BELIEVE the newspapers, the world’s most eminent theoretical scientist, Stephen Hawking, has declared that the universe was created from nothing, without God’s help.

In his brand-new book, The Grand Design, which was written in conjunction with Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking explains two vital ingredients of modern science that led to his startling conclusion: quantum mechanics and relativity.

He describes quantum mechanics by using a formulation devised by the late Nobel Prize winner, Richard Feynman. Feynman's method of quantum mechanics explains that the probability of an event — say, an electron moving from where you are to the door of your room, for example — is calculated by adding up the probabilities of all the ways it could happen. It could move in a straight line, circle the room a couple of times, or even (with very small probability) visit Mars on its way to the door.

As for relativity, there is still nothing to beat Albert Einstein’s explanation. He taught his secretary-housekeeper, Helen Dukas, how to deal with members of the public who wanted a simple explanation of relativity.

“Tell them,” he advised her, “that an hour sitting with a pretty girl on a park bench passes like a minute, but a minute sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour.”

Well there, now that we understand all about quantum mechanics, relativity, and how the universe was created, I have a question:

Why can’t I have a nice yacht created from nothing?

It seems a small thing to ask when you consider how much bother it must have been to create from nothing a whole universe complete with quantum mechanics and relativity and everything. Would it be asking too much for a tiny favor like a yacht? Something like a Hinckley, perhaps, traditional full keel, and ready for ocean cruising? And maybe something like a Lamborghini to go with it, something my grandson would describe as a chick magnet. What use is science, I say, if it’s all theory and nothing practical?

So how about it, Hawking, old chap? How about focusing that mighty brain of yours on creating a Hinckley for me? And if that tires you out, I’ll make it easy on you. I’ll take a Lexus instead of the Lamborghini.

Today’s Thought
There are people who will say that this whole account is a lie, but a thing isn’t necessarily a lie even if it didn’t necessarily happen.
— John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #90
Fuel reserves. Earmark one third of your fuel capacity to get to your destination. That leaves on third to get back, and one third for your emergency reserve.

“What’s he being arrested for?”
“Bigotry — he’s got three wives.”
“No, no, you said three. That’s trigonometry.”


Robert Salnick said...

Oh please, not a Lexus. If not the Countach, then how about a 68

DeeP said...

if? with all the ingredients, the universe came about by chance?
Id say the odds are about the same as,
If? I threw every piece of a mechanical clock in the air it would land together as an operating timepiece??
bloody ridiculous if you ask me.

Oded Kishony said...

....and if you threw up matter and anti-matter into the air how likely would it be that God would appear?

bloody ridiculous if you ask me.