The Frontal Cortex

Physical Theories as Women

This is the funniest thing I’ve read today. Over at McSweeney’s, Simon Dedeo compares our physical theories to types of women:

0. Newtonian gravity is your high-school girlfriend. As your first encounter with physics, she’s amazing. You will never forget Newtonian gravity, even if you’re not in touch very much anymore.

3. Quantum mechanics is the girl you meet at the poetry reading. Everyone thinks she’s really interesting and people you don’t know are obsessed about her. You go out. It turns out that she’s pretty complicated and has some issues. Later, after you’ve broken up, you wonder if her aura of mystery is actually just confusion.

8. String theory is off in her own little world. She is either profound or insane. If you start dating, you never see your friends anymore. It’s just string theory, 24/7.

I hope there’s a sequel for the various divisions of the biological sciences.


  1. #1 DavidD
    March 28, 2007

    Who is this guy? I followed your link, but I couldn’t tell. He might not be the right guy to date physics.

    1) They send spacecraft to Mars using Newtonian gravity. She’s done very well for herself. Maybe I’d have been better off just staying with her.

    2) Quantum mechanics taught me things no one else ever did. I was never the same after that, in a good way, and she wasn’t wrong or confused. I could have been happy with her, too, except for one little thing. It turns out she’s not a woman, not yet anyway. Nobody’s perfect, of course, but I wasn’t so broadminded then. She’s not confused. It’s people who are confused about her, many very confused.

    3) String theory, string bikinis, I got too old before either were accessible. At least one of them has to be interesting if you’re young enough.

    In between 2 and 3 there was this blonde washing her car next door to where I lived. She wound up being the mother of my children because she wasn’t about physics at all. It’s what our purely mammalian limbic system does to us for the sake of both love and sex that someday will make neuroscience more about being human than any part of physics.

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