UNPOPULAR SCIENCE - Basic Physics Explained... ;o)


Android Expert
The following is an awesome piece from yesterday's NY Times. If you ever had trouble understanding physics, here are some basic concepts explained in a way only a family man could appreciate. Just read the following as if it were a comic book. Enjoy!



Unpopular Science

Whether we like it or not, human life is subject to the universal laws of physics.

My day, for example, starts with a demonstration of Newton’s First Law of Motion.


It states, “Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line…”


“…unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.”


Based on supercomplicated physical observations, Einstein concluded that two objects may perceive time differently.

Based on simple life experience, I have concluded that this is true.


Newtonʼs Cradle shows how energy travels through a series of objects.

In our particular arrangement, kinetic energy is ultimately converted into a compression of the forehead.


The forehead can be uncrumpled by a downward movement of the jaw.


Excessive mechanical strain will compromise the elasticity of most materials, though.


The human body functions like a combustion engine. To produce energy, we need two things:

- Oxygen, supplied through the nostrils (once the toy car is removed, that is).
- Carbohydrates, which come in various forms (vanilla, chocolate, dulce de leche).


By the by: I had an idea for a carb-neutral ice cream.

  • All you need is to freeze a pint of ice cream to -3706 F.
  • The energy it will take your system to bring the ice cream up to a digestible temperature is roughly 1,000 calories, neatly burning away all those carbohydrates from the fat and sugar.
  • The only snag is the Third Law of Thermodynamics, which says it’s impossible to go below -459 F.



But back to Newton: he discovered that any two objects in the universe attract each other, and that this force is proportional to their mass.

The Earth is heavier than the Moon, and therefore attracts our bodies with a much greater force.


This explains why an empty refrigerator administrates a much smaller gravitational pull than, say, one thatʼs stacked with 50 pounds of delicious leftovers. Great: that means we can blame the leftovers.


(Fig. A): Letʼs examine the behavior of particles in a closed container.

(Fig. B): The more particles we squeeze into the container, the testier they will become, especially if the container happens to be a rush-hour downtown local at 86th and Lex.

(Fig. C): Usually the particles will distribute evenly, unless there is a weird-looking puddle on the floor.


The probability of finding a seat on the subway is inversely proportional to the number of people on the platform.

Even worse, the utter absence of people is 100 percent proportional to just having missed the train.


To describe different phenomena, physicists use various units.

  • PASCALS, for example, measure the pressure applied to a certain area.
  • COULOMBS measure electric charge (that can occur if said area is a synthetic carpet)
  • DECIBELS measure the intensity of the trouble the physicist gets into because he didnʼt take off his shoes first.


Once the child is ready to go, I search for my keys. I start spinning around to scan my surroundings. This rotation exposes my head and all its contents to centrifugal forces, resulting in loss of hair and elongated eyeballs. That’s why I need to wear prescription glasses, which are yet another thing I constantly misplace.


Obviously, the hair loss theory I just presented is bogus. Hair canʼt be “lost.” Since Antoine Lavoisier, we all know that “matter can be neither created nor destroyed, though it can be rearranged,” which, sadly, it eventually will.


Not everything can be explained through physics, though. Iʼve spent years searching for a rational explanation for the weight of my wifeʼs luggage. There is none. It is just a cruel joke of nature.


Destroying Balls Everyday
That was a great read. :) I'm going to show this to my physics professor. I'm sure she'd love this!


Android Expert
LOL, awesome! Another theory I've heard about hairloss is that your hair, as you get older, grows deeper and deeper through your skull. Eventually, it will either hit brain (gray matter), and that will turn the hair gray. But if there are no brains to hit, then the hair just falls through and into the empty part of the skull, where it will then be redistributed to other parts of the body (shoulders, back, ears, nose...). That is why some people are bald on the top of their head with the wreath of gray hair; they obviously only have enough brains to fill up to that level, and all the hair above that level hit the empty space and fell in.