Built on Facts

Physics and Relationships

Yesterday I spend a tremendous amount of time in a very snazzy lab shooting lasers through pyridine. Cool stuff, tempered by the fact that pyridine smells like what Dr. Frankenstein’s lab would have smelled like if Dr. Frankenstein used organic chemistry instead of electricity, and also the thing he was trying to bring back to life was a dead fish. Science waits for no man – not at least if you have a sensitive nose. Anyway, it resulted in my super-cool post about gravity not being done yet. Blarg! With any luck I’ll have it up Monday.

So as something cool for the Built on Facts show today, I’d like to show you all something by one of the best comics writers on the web. From Scott Meyer’s Basic Instructions:


Ok, so you won’t find this in Landau. But I have a suspicion that it might be true anyway…

I’d like to hear your physics of relationships theories in the comments!


  1. #1 Chad
    January 30, 2009

    Well, I know #3 is true at least for this biologist (and I assume physicists as well).

  2. #2 Dave X
    January 30, 2009

    There’s a show about the first law: Tool academy

  3. #3 MTitus
    January 30, 2009

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    While not a theory, it still involves physics and relationships. My classical mechanics professor said one day (last year)”

    “So I was going to have the midterm on the Thursday night in the middle of the quarter, but it turns out that falls on February 14th… Now I know your all physics majors, so so the date doesn’t mean anything to you, but I still decided to have it on Friday instead.
    … Now you can spend your valentines day studying for it!”

    Also, in my quantum course my prof mentioned the “top ten experiments in physics” and I was wondering if you, Matt, might want to put together a list yourself!

  4. #4 rob
    January 30, 2009

    SHO: simple harmonic osculation

  5. #5 Carl Brannen
    January 31, 2009

    Human sexual relationships, like those of the other great apes, basically reduce to prostitution. At the same time, our society is permeated with the concept that buying and selling sex is wrong.

    What’s the sound of one hand clapping? The basic problem is figuring out how to pay for it without it being paid for.

    I wouldn’t want to destroy the joy of discovery, so I’ll only give you a small hint: Valentine’s Day is your buddy.

  6. #6 razib
    January 31, 2009

    the heteronormative presuppositions of this act of speech exclude me from this public space and violate my sense of self.

  7. #7 Anonymous
    January 31, 2009

    Two-body problems have easy-to-calculate solutions.

    Three-body problems are chaotic.

  8. #8 Brian
    February 3, 2009

    I’m actually at the tail end of writing a historical fiction novel premised on this very ideal of social parallels to physical laws. The book takes place in the late 1800s at the Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory when quantum physics upset Newton’s apple cart.

    I also have a post on my blog about how to use Thermodynamic Laws for sound financial investment advice (it’s just a tad tongue in cheek, but I had fun with it.)



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