Revolutions in Physics

For years people have expressed to me their feelings toward physics and I have come to the conclusion that classical mechanics (the intro physics courses required for most majors) is currently analogous in popularity to classical music. Some see classical mechanics as an important foundation to modern physics; a sufficient approximation of new theories, valid for most physical phenomena on an everyday scale. Comparatively, they appreciate how modern music has incorporated elements of the classical style (as evidenced here).

Others however, (I’m sad to say the majority) have concluded it (both classical music and classical mechanics) is best used as a sleep-aid, personified by the indelible drool stains found in most used undergrad physics texts. Expanding upon this analogy, one can deduce that since most students joyfully retire from physics after these intro courses (and since most students prefer modern music), they’re foregoing the “music” they would really enjoy! Even those who choose to major in physics, myself included, feel a somewhat mild interest toward the subject until the intricacies of modern physics hooks them. If only the others had pressed on like we did! Had they done so, the depth of late night banter would be un-paralleled. Who would deny they’ve had conversations concerning “what time is” after “watching tarzan” (I realize only 2 people understand that exact reference, but perhaps you can deduce what activity I’m referring to). I know many of you have been enchanted by Dr. Michio Kaku’s glorious hair on How the Universe Works. To most non-physicists simply putting “Quantum” in front of anything instantly makes it infinitely cooler. Don’t believe me? It’s a scientific fact no one enjoys eating brussel sprouts, but if I told you I had some QUANTUM brussel sprouts… well then…

It is in this spirit I start the following series to inform you of the two revolutions in physics you may have missed…

Starting next week, we shall proceed in a chronological manner beginning of course in 1905 with Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Here you will see that while you may think you’re standing still waiting for the Comm. Ave bus, you shouldn’t be quite so sure.




One Comment

  1. Speaking of physics, and science generally, I was pleased to note that Boston College got at least four [4] of the prestigious Alfred J Sloane Research fellowships, in chemistry, molecular biology, neuroscience and – yes- physics! There were at least four (I might have missed one), but this is an impressive total considering that the BC people are in competition with the techno-giants like MIT, Johns Hopkins, Harvard Medical and Cal Tech, and with the huge government-funded universities like UCLA and the University of Toronto. Bravo for the Eagles, eh?

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