Friday, November 8, 2013

Thoughts inspired by a science joke

Another day, another science joke. Not a very funny one, but enlightening.

When I say "science joke," I mean one that involves a modicum of science knowledge. Which makes this yet another post against the scientistologists that are all in favor of science as long as they don't have to learn any. They like the idea and the image of science, but are not willing to do the work necessary to learn it.

Last sunday I tweeted: According to my alarm clock, the computer & phone spent two hours moving at almost 90% of speed of light. That's one explanation.

Since that was the end of Daylight Savings Time, what that tweet says is that clocks which get a synchronization signal from the internet were one hour behind those that I have to reset manually. The twist is that I calculated what speed would compress time 1:2, $v = 0.8660254 c$, and included that in the joke.

(By the way, this time compression is an example of the twins "paradox," which is not paradoxical at all.)

As for the people who "love science" (as long as they don't have to learn any), well, many of them have a vague notion that I was referring to relativity, but no idea whether the 90% number was right, wrong, or random. Science is something they believe in, without actually knowing any of the details.

More and more people are falling into this trap of believing in science as opposed to actually learning it. That is a very bad trend in a technology-dependent society.