Re: Deconstructing Physics

Danny Yee (danny@MORIA.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Sun, 10 Apr 1994 16:58:25 +1000

Michael Bauser writes:
> (Yes, I know some of you reading this just thought "Well yes, culture isn't
> real". Let's not start that again. I mean "real" in the sesnse "worthy of
> study" and/or "worthy of spending government money to build a supercolider
> for". Rather a circular definition, but it's what they use....)

An interesting definition of 'real'? I am not worried about
deconstructionists or mathematical cosmologists because they don't
consume huge amounts of resources (lots of paper in both cases, I think
:-). When it comes to astronomy or particle physics or medicine,
however, we are starting to talk serious political issues. How many
anthropologists could one get instead of one $12 billion super-collider,
or, more to the point, how many people could one feed and educate?
The older I get (and the further away from my childhood ambition to
be a theoretical physicist and find a grand theory of everything :-)
the more I think cheap (ie resource efficient) = good as far as science

> A lot of non-astrophysicist physicists, on the other hand, occassionally
> tease/abuse (it's a continuum) astrophysicists about dealing with things
> that don't matter, because they're things that are off-planet, are often too
> far away to touch (and thus even verify their existence, in the most vulgar
> materialist sense "I'll believe it when I see it at ten meters"). One
> graduate physics student of my acquaintence openly refers to astrophysics
> as "voodoo physics".

There's a joke about astrophysicists being happy if their calculations
agree with observation to within 10 orders of magnitude! (For the non-
mathematical among you, that means if their theory says the answer
should be 1 and they observe 10 000 000 000 instead, they think that's
support for the theory.)

Danny Yee.