It's Not the LHC Black Holes That Will Destroy Us

Evolutionary Acceleration Research Institute Ready to Start “Squirrel Smasher”

Scientists currently rely on computer simulations to smash biological units, but simulations can only do so much, and without the visceral enjoyment of seeing two squirrels collide at thousands of miles an hour.

Malwin said there will be controls in place to prevent new undesirable species from forming. “Only species of the same type will be smashed together, so you don’t have to worry about the flying rat, or poisonous Chihuahua nightmare scenarios.”

Wait, what about nanoevolution happening during the collision, changing the theoretical subbiological particles? Madness, I tell you, madness. It’ll be the end of the world. Biologists should be aware of the particle physics maxim: that which is not forbidden is mandated. Poisonous Chihuahuas and antiChihuahuas are inevitable. (Flying rats already exist. They’re called pigeons)

via Pharyngula

Your Horoscope

ARES — Perseverance is your word today. You will not become frustrated at your continued inability to separate quarks from each other.

TAURUS — You will suspect that the force pushing you away from the center of a circle is in fact a figment of your imagination, and would not be there if you were to analyze your motion in an inertial reference frame.

GEMINI — Don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. Checking which path the particles are taking will destroy the interference pattern of that double-slit experiment, and you will be found out.

CANCER — The positions of the stars and planets will have no effect on your daily existence.

LEO — All around you, elementary particles and antiparticles will pop into existence and then wink out, but you will remain calm and blissfully unaware of them.

VIRGO — Weigh your choices carefully: your decision to flap your arms or not will affect the weather far away. Breaking that high-level encryption will be easier once you finish that quantum computer you’ve been working on.

LIBRA — Despite your best efforts, you will increase entropy when converting thermal energy to mechanical work. You will strive to conserve energy, and succeed.

SCORPIO — You are a cold-blooded mass-murderer and “Dirty Harry” Callahan will make sure you get what’s coming to you. The number “five” figures prominently in your day.

SAGITTARIUS — You will be unable to simultaneously determine the position and momentum of any objects today, nor place two fermions in the same quantum state. Not a good time to start a new relationship with another spin 1/2 particle.

CAPRICORN — Ennui sets in: you continue to be affected by the same physics, unchanged, no matter which inertial reference frame you find yourself in.

AQUARIUS — Despite your best attempt to be in two places at once, quantum superposition eludes your grasp, partly because the creep in accounting keeps trying to “measure” you.

PISCES — You notice that your buoyancy is equal to the weight of water that you displace. Resist the urge to announce this fact overzealously.

Crackpot Bingo

It happens in science blog comments, and more so in discussion boards where you get some crank with their pet theory of some science subdiscipline, and how it’s the new paradigm ready to emerge and topple the orthodoxy. And it’s almost formulaic like a Hardy Boys mystery (or even a Robert Ludlum novel) with the same arguments cropping up in different combinations. Read several in a row and the commonalities jump out at you.

Hmmm. A finite set of arguments, appearing seemingly at random. Sounds like bingo to me!
Here are the major points, many of which are shamelessly cribbed from the crackpot index

Strawman – use of the strawman fallacy
Unbelievable — use of the argument from incredulity fallacy (I don’t understand, therefore it’s wrong)
Gedanken — use of a thought experiment to debunk a theory or actual experiment
ALLCAPS — extensive use of ALLCAPS or large font
Galileo — as in, comparing themself favorably (i.e. persecuted)
Einstein — as in, comparing themself favorably (i.e. I am the next one)
Nobel — claiming they will win one
School — listing degrees and/or schools attended
Dropout — usually a proud declaration
Many years — how long they’ve worked on their theory
Prize — offer a prize to anyone debunking their work
Terminology — new terms or acronyms
Particles — new particles proposed (Tachyons don’t count)
Interaction — a new interaction is proposed
Eponym — naming something of their work after themselves
Math — admitting to be unable to do it or doing it horribly
Theory — as in, “it’s only a theory” argument to dismiss accepted science
Metaphysics — the work explains “why” or what some phenomenon “really is”
Censorship — complaints about work being censored
Rue — “you’ll rue the day you ignored me” or similar warning
Religion — claiming science is a religion
Priest/Bible — scientists are high priests, or some work is the science bible
Gifs — animated, very pretty, meaningless
Graphs — must have unlabeled axes or be otherwise incomprehensible
See? — claiming the model explains/predicts many phenomena, but without actually presenting evidence
Huh? — befuddlement over lack of instant acceptance of new paradigm
We — the royal we; “we don’t understand X” applied to a well-understood issue
You — “You don’t understand X” directed toward an individual with significant experience in the field
Predicts — model predicts phenomena that have never been observed, but should have been
Turtles — all the way down: all of physics is due to one fundamental particle
Quotes — supports position by selective quoting
Like — argument by analogy
Topology — use of mobius strip or klein bottle in argument
Mum — won’t divulge details for fear of idea being stolen
Polly — simple repetition of claims, unchanged, after being debunked
Indignation — at being asked for evidence or other corroboration (added 5/11)

I’ll add more if worthy ones are suggested.

Card generator available here

Talk Like a Physicist Day

Today’s the day! I’m all over this one. Talk like a physicist

If anyone needs some pointers:

Use “canonical” when you mean “usual” or “standard.” As in, “the canonical example of talking like a physicist is to use the word ‘canonical.'”

Use “orthogonal” to refer to things that are mutually-exclusive or can’t coincide. “We keep playing phone tag — I think our schedules must be orthogonal”

“About” becomes “to a first-order approximation”

Things are not difficult, they are “non-trivial”

Large discrepancies are “orders of magnitude apart”

Refer to coordinates and coordinate systems. “I got shafted” becomes “I took one up the z-axis”

Any actual personal experience becomes “empirical data.” i.e. a burn on your hand is empirical data that the stove is hot.

You’re not being lazy, you are in your ground state.

A semi-educated guess is an extrapolation

You aren’t ignoring details, you are taking the ideal case

A tiny amount is “vanishingly small” or “negligible.” Really small is “infinitesimal”

You aren’t overweight, you are thermodynamically efficient

Stuck in a meeting is “trapped in a potential well,” though you hope you can “tunnel out.” Alternatively, it can be a black hole, from which there is no escape.

it’s not a wire, it’s a “conductor”

It’s not light, they are photons. Turning on the lamp becomes emitting photons.