Pharyngula

I’m writing this at an altitude of 37,000 feet, 7 miles up in the air. Now I’m not really afraid of flying — I am entirely confident that I’ll be able to post this sometime after I land — but if you think about it, it’s grounds for trepidation. This is insanely high, and I’m in this fragile tin can that is reliant on a constant stream of exploding jet fuel to keep from simply falling out of the sky … an event which I and the other passengers would not survive. I don’t want to dwell on it, of course, but I have put myself in a potentially lethal situation, and I have to do this regularly as part of my job. Why? Who is at fault for creating this culture of risk?

I blame Newton.

Newton was a wild-eyed lunatic, cruel and inconsiderate to his peers (actually, he was so arrogant he seems not to have regarded anyone as his peer), and he documented in excruciating, obsessive detail the behavior of falling objects, which includes the falling of living, breathing, caring people. He plotted mathematically and with complex formulae the rates that objects, including people, would fall, and the force with which they would strike the ground — it’s hard not to imagine him cackling with glee like a psychopathic child pulling the wings off flies as he calculated the trajectories of objects, like people, flying through space. He was a horrible man.

Look back over the worst tragedies of the twentieth century, this period of time when Newtonists have run amuck. We’ve been lofting people into the sky for well over a hundred years, and quite often, they’ve fallen down. How many have died due to the tyranny of the gravity Newton put into the hands of conscienceless materialist scientists? Examine Hitler’s record, for instance. He was an ardent Newtonist who put his Wehrmacht to evil purpose, building machines that used the wicked geometries of Newton to shatter Europe. Nazi artillery and tanks used Newton’s tools to strike at his righteous opponents. Who can forget the V2 rockets lofting into the air on tongues of F=ma (another Newtonist “theory”!) to then fall along Newtonian trajectories, showering death on the good Christians of England. Hitler also dreamed of firing his evil Newtonist weapons on America, and if we’d given him enough time, he would have succeeded…thanks to Newton.

Perhaps you want to argue that Newton is not to blame, that someone would have said the same thing; or perhaps you want to make the claim that the world would have been the same without his work. But that neglects an important fact: Newton killed hope. Once, I might have thought that I could survive falling if I watched my diet and were as light as a feather, but no — Newton’s cold equations dictate that no matter what I weigh, I’d fall just as fast, so in despair I have let myself go, just as, I can see, many of my fellow Midwesterners. We despair because of Newton, and seek forlorn solace in trying to increase our wind resistance.

And those equations! The force of gravity is described as g•M1•M2 / d2, and those little letters don’t stand for God, motherhood, marriage (heterosexual), and devotion. There is no room in Newtonism for the reassuring idea that my airplane is being cradled in the loving, supportive hands of an intelligent anti-gravity agent. Just the idea of opposing gravity is anathema to the intelligentsiac — they think gravity is a great thing, and don’t want to question it.

Try polling university physics departments sometime: you won’t find the faculty questioning Newton at all. Gravity is over and done with those people, with nothing left to learn, and they won’t tolerate even the slightest deviation from Newtonist dogma. An open-minded physicist who suggests even the tiniest revision to the “theory” — for instance, suggesting that maybe Newton got the exponent a little bit wrong, and gravity varies with the cube of the distance, and they laugh at you and refuse to give you tenure. Shouldn’t these questions be discussed? Are they so intolerant that they will allow no dissent at all?

Don’t be fooled. The catastrophic social consequences of falling demand that we question all of Newtonism.


*For instance, those feminists. Little known fact: bra-burning is actually an act of submission to Newtonist theories of gravity.

Comments

  1. #1 carovee
    March 28, 2008

    I’m alerting my creationist friends to this menace, stat!

  2. #2 Matt
    March 28, 2008

    EXCELLENTLY written, PZ.

    Next time I see a creationist posting bullshit on some forum or other, I should refer them to this article. Brilliant work.

  3. #3 Mihir
    March 28, 2008

    I read it to myself in a Ben Stein whine. It works, I recommend it.

  4. #4 Ryan Egesdahl
    March 28, 2008

    Bravo, PZ. There is only one problem, though: you were far too eloquent in your diatribe against gravity. I mean, where’s all the misspelled words, grammar errors, and psychotic imagery of people burning in Hell?

    Alas. It just goes to show that a truly intelligent person can imitate stupid but will always fail at actual stupidity. You gave it your best.

  5. #5 Micro Zealous
    March 28, 2008

    Amen Brother! As Brother W said, “Teach the convroter..covron…conterversaries.”
    For more Good News on the struggle to take back America, use the Googles for “Onion” + “Intelligent falling”.
    YIC. PbtA.

  6. #6 waldteufel
    March 28, 2008

    Sweet.

  7. #7 Amafortas
    March 28, 2008

    Perhaps are you related to J. Swift?

  8. #8 JDC
    March 28, 2008

    Aristotle knew what he was talking about. Objects want to be in their natural place. Our natural place is the centre of the Earth. If man was meant to fly god would have given him wings!

  9. #9 Richard Harris
    March 28, 2008

    PZ, He plotted mathematically and with complex formulae the rates that objects, including people, would fall, and the force with which they would strike the ground…

    He didn’t do the latter. He (correctly) stated that it would not be possible to calculate the force of a hammer blow, (because of not knowing the rate of deceleration of the impacting object, as it & the impacted object deform.)

    Try polling university physics departments sometime: you won’t find the faculty questioning Newton at all.

    Theories of modified Newtonian gravity are being developed, as an alternative to relying upon dark matter in explaining the motions of galaxies.

    Newton was a nasty bit of work, according to some of the evidence, & judged by modern Western standards. He was also a religious nut. Darwin was much nicer, & an all round good human being.

  10. #10 Tanya
    March 28, 2008

    That was awesome. Thanks for the laugh. You should try to get that published in the newspaper.

  11. #11 ennui
    March 28, 2008

    Careful PZ, someone from Florida’s Senate might read this and get another brilliant idea.

  12. #12 Natasha Yar-Routh
    March 28, 2008

    You may think you’re joking but I have read a polemic by Gary North published by Dominion Educational Ministries that argues that Newton’s rationalism helped lay the ground work for the US Constitution being a secular document, a very bad thing in the opinion of mister North.

  13. #13 Norman Doering
    March 28, 2008

    Off Topic:

    PZ,

    Did you call some “conference call” with Ben Stein and the producers of Expelled? Thid blooger is reporting that you did:

    http://www.thinkingchristian.net/?p=1310#respond

  14. #14 Norman Doering
    March 28, 2008

    Did I just write “Thid blooger”??

    Ackk!

    That should be “This blogger”

  15. #15 Glen Davidson
    March 28, 2008

    Or actually, why isn’t Heideggerian phenomenology considered to be science? The fact is that he really did question the “presuppositions” of science to the point of considering Galileo (who got Newton off onto this hideously godless tangent of science based on (more or less) Cartesian space) to be vulnerable to his phenomenological “questioning.”

    Really, open the floodgates to any kooky vague nonsense, and you have a host of ideas which would be happy to supplant science from, you know, the tyranny of the scientific establishment.

    Of course Florida isn’t about to do that, since their “academic freedom” bill is (or was, anyway) only addressed to biology. They know which science they despise and wish to destroy, and which sciences they don’t wish to destroy.

    But there’s no reason to suppose that they won’t attack physics, and especially cosmology, in the future. Only they like Newton, after all, since he was no evil atheist, and even his heresy is preferable to the vile sciences of those who are atheists.

    The fact that Darwin essentially brought biology into the sphere of Newtonian science is lost on the IDiots, since they haven’t a clue about science or the history of science.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  16. #16 Kevin Anthoney
    March 28, 2008

    Theories of modified Newtonian gravity are being developed, as an alternative to relying upon dark matter in explaining the motions of galaxies.

    General Relativity is probably a better example, as it’s much more widely accepted than MOND.

  17. #17 Cap'n Jim
    March 28, 2008

    There is no room in Newtonism for the reassuring idea that my airplane is being cradled in the loving, supportive hands of an intelligent anti-gravity agent.

    Avast, matey! That agent be the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Intelligent Falling! RAmen!

  18. #18 Gray Lensman
    March 28, 2008

    Is Bernoulli next?

  19. #19 MikeM
    March 28, 2008

    Not enough CAPS.

  20. #20 Coel
    March 28, 2008

    Excellent parody PZ. However, methinks it should stop before the penultimate paragraph. Afterall, physics has indeed found Newtonian theory to be inadequate and flawed compared to Einsteinian gravity (and even that is considered not to be the final answer). Overall, Darwinian theory is in much better shape than the theory of Newtonian gravity.

  21. #21 Jim
    March 28, 2008

    Planes do perfectly well without fuel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimli_Glider
    (sometimes)

  22. #22 jaramilr
    March 28, 2008

    Nicely put! That whole bronze age thingy really sticks in my craw too.

  23. #23 BlueIndependent
    March 28, 2008

    What deathly evil satirist are you, and what have you done with PZ?!!

  24. #24 Sastra
    March 28, 2008

    What Newtonists fail to do is consider the children.

    If you teach that gravity intends for us to fall, then what does that tell them? It tells them that it’s “okay” to throw people out of windows. It’s fine to toss them off buildings and from airplanes. Hey, kick your little brother down the stairs. Why not? When your parents ask how you could do this, what answer will you give?

    “Gravity.” You were only obeying the law of gravity. Things fall — it’s only “natural.” Why, Newton even calculated the rate it is SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN.

    I shudder when I contemplate the kind of society that will form if we teach our children that they are no more than objects in space, and they fall at the same rate as animals and rocks. If we do this, then they will act like objects in space. They will fall at the same rate as animals and rocks.

    What then when the laws of Newtonian gravity are exposed and defeated at that final Resurrection? When called to judgment, will they answer

    “But Newton did the math, and said it was right?”

  25. #25 DJCarnegie
    March 28, 2008

    Oh my science! What a brilliantly written parody.

    (Hello, long time lurker, first time poster here)

  26. #26 BlueIndependent
    March 28, 2008

    Myself, I must admit I am a rabid anti-Huygenist. That Dutch fool and his light waves are responsible for all of today’s ires, including the communication of deviant imagery through TVs and video games, and the use of light waves to construct the tool that will enslave humanity, the transistor! Now teh pr0nz can emit from every video orifice when placed in the wrong hands!

  27. #27 amphiox
    March 28, 2008

    And let’s never forget the alchemy! Alchemy!
    That’s right, the Newtonists are following an alchemist!

  28. #28 nal
    March 28, 2008

    You’re not afraid of flying, you’re afraid of crashing.

  29. #29 Ric
    March 28, 2008

    He was an ardent Newtonist who put his Wehrmacht to evil purpose, building machines that used the wicked geometries of Newton to shatter Europe.

    What a dead-on parody. It captures them perfectly.

  30. #30 tsig
    March 28, 2008

    As I see it there are two ways to look at this:

    You can believe in Newtonism and the Fall or

    The FSM and enjuy sauces forever.

    I know wich side of the Pasta I’m betting on.

  31. #31 Moses
    March 28, 2008

    Sorry, you need more crayon in your rant.

  32. #32 John B. Sandlin
    March 28, 2008

    I gotta echo Jim in #21 – it isn’t the engines quitting that’s the problem. Airplanes rely on the engine’s power to maintain altitude, speed, and/or both. Once you run out of fuel, you trade your potential energy (altitude) for kinetic energy (over coming wind resistance and keeping the airspeed up). Of course, this is a one way trip, and a landing location must be found immediately – but based on the altitude, you can trade a lot of up for a lot of cross country. Or a little bit of up for a little bit of cross country.

    Even jet aircraft will glide further horizontally than they give up vertically, as long as they keep the airspeed at the best glide speed.

    So – those cartoons where the plane is cruising along and just falls out of the air when the gas goes dry are as bad as creation science.

    Of course I’m a biased Aviationist. ;-)

    JBS

  33. #33 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 28, 2008

    [Bad spoof] In US, they came first for the Darwinists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Darwinist;

    And then they came for the Newtonists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Newtonist;

    And then they came for the Euclidians, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an Euclidian;

    And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up. [/Terrible spoof]

    “Teach the convroter..covron…conterversaries.”

    Ah, but considering Newton’s “wicked geometries”, shouldn’t that be “contravertices”?

  34. #34 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 28, 2008

    [Bad spoof] In US, they came first for the Darwinists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Darwinist;

    And then they came for the Newtonists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Newtonist;

    And then they came for the Euclidians, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an Euclidian;

    And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up. [/Terrible spoof]

    “Teach the convroter..covron…conterversaries.”

    Ah, but considering Newton’s “wicked geometries”, shouldn’t that be “contravertices”?

  35. #35 Helioprogenus
    March 28, 2008

    Every time I read one of PZ’s masterpieces, it kills all the hope within me. I think to myself, why didn’t I think of that, or what will it take to write as eloquently as PZ? I remember his other largely sarcastic and satirical piece about flying airplanes (posted about 2 months ago) that made me wonder why my neurons don’t seem to fire at similar patterns. Ahh, cruelty is the name of the universe.

    OK, anyway, in all seriousness, This post just killed the creationist attack on Darwin in every way imaginable. Mocking their illogical arguments, to where they’re left whimpering at the foot of their imaginary god(s).

  36. #36 Chris' Wills
    March 28, 2008

    (actually, he was so arrogant he seems not to have regarded anyone as his peer)

    Simple fact: Newton had no peers (Lienbniz who he?)

    Oh yes, it was Bernoulli who taught us how to fly.

  37. #37 Owlmirror
    March 28, 2008

    And remember, aeroplanes were also used by Hitler’s Luftwaffe. More Newtonist evil!

    Professor, we need to tell the world how Newtonistism is making the world unsafe for levity. I suggest a movie documentary, perhaps titled: Defenestrated: No Hot Air Allowed.

  38. #38 Chris P
    March 28, 2008

    From what I understand, although the mechanics of gravity are fully understood, the actual gravitational weak force and its mechanism is not.

    One has to be careful jumping sciences as we all know.

    Chris P

  39. #39 Bobby-Joe Tabor
    March 28, 2008

    GLORY!

    Finally the arch-Darwnist is starting to see beyond the blinders of Naturalistic Thinking that Satan has placed upon him! Perhaps at 37,000 feet Myers is close enough to almost see Heaven up there in the clouds. The very light of Jesus’ love from His golden house has warmed the ice that humanism as chilled Myers’ heart.

    To answer Myers’ unspoken question what keeps his airplane flying is explained with the Christian Science theory of Intelligent Falling. God sends angels to prop up the wings of the airplane while demons seek to pull the airplane down to the ground and into Hell. It is the struggle of these two forces of Rightness and Evil that causes lift. The more oil burned in the jet’s engines the more God is pleased and the higher He commands the jet to fly.

    For the moment your airplane flies thanks to God’s perfect benevolence. However God’s patience is not limitless Dr Myers! One of these days our loving Savior Jesus Christ will have enough and give you one of His Tough Love® lessons He is so famous for. When your French made Airbus crashes into a mountainside it will be too late to REPENT and beg God’s forgiveness! Charles Darwin will not save you then, only Jesus can! It is high time to turn or burn.

    PS remember the first jet aircraft was made by the NAZIS!

  40. #40 Chris' Wills
    March 28, 2008

    *For instance, those feminists. Little known fact: bra-burning is actually an act of submission to Newtonist theories of gravity.

    :o)

    Oh yes, what is this F=ma? Some modern heterodoxy I warrant.

    Force is proportional to rate of change of mometum is what the master wrote.

  41. #41 Sastra
    March 28, 2008

    Chris P #37 wrote:

    From what I understand, although the mechanics of gravity are fully understood, the actual gravitational weak force and its mechanism is not.

    More holes in the theory, huh? Where’s the transitional forms?

  42. #42 Romeo Vitelli
    March 28, 2008

    Don’t be dissing Newton. The man died a virgin and you can’t get much more wholesome than that.

  43. #43 Blake Stacey
    March 28, 2008

    Theories of modified Newtonian gravity are being developed, as an alternative to relying upon dark matter in explaining the motions of galaxies.

    After the Bullet Cluster, not so much.

  44. #44 Sili
    March 28, 2008

    This does indeed need more caps. Specifically “G” rather than “g”.

    Aside from that top notch. Newton really was a nasty fella (why do you think we have no idea what Hooke looks like?)

  45. #45 Simple Don
    March 28, 2008

    I am stunned you missed the most satanic of Newton’s so called Laws – Conservation of Motion.

    If true it would deign that which for thousands of years has been the single strongest proof of the existence of God,
    Aristotle’s Prime Mover, restated by St. Aquinas as one of his five proofs.

    This, of course, is the argument that the heavenly bodies, suspended from the firmament separating the waters above the earth, must be moved across that same firmament by some unseen entity, the prime mover, who must be God.

    To say that these bodies want to keep moving, without God’s help, is idiotic. And it is dangerous because it would destroy the credibility of the bible and leave God with only a minor role as the “Creator”. And we all know that would be impossible to prove.

  46. #46 Chris' Wills
    March 28, 2008

    Don’t be dissing Newton. The man died a virgin and you can’t get much more wholesome than that.
    Posted by: Romeo Vitelli |

    Catherine Barton Conduitt, served as his hostess in social affairs at his house on Jermyn Street in London; he was her “very loving Uncle”

    Why say you he died a virgin?

    What calumny you espouses.

  47. #47 gerald spezio
    March 28, 2008

    The jet fuel does not “explode.”
    It burns very rapidly.
    If a framer genius wanted to frame the combustion as an explosion, she would be distorting the combustion process.

  48. #48 andy
    March 28, 2008

    Clearly these criticisms are a lie. For example, the author is so supremely ignorant as to render the universal gravitational constant G as a lowercase g, which befits only the local acceleration due to gravity.

  49. #49 Gilipollas Caraculo
    March 28, 2008

    Naw, it all started with Euclidism.

  50. #50 gerald spezio
    March 28, 2008

    Therefore, Catherine could have been a conduit to Newton’s not-at-all oedipal reading of Ovid thereby distorting Newton’s precarious essence and precious bodily fluids?

  51. #51 BJN
    March 28, 2008

    Where’s Thomas Pynchon when you need him?

    “There was no difference between the behavior of a god and the operations of pure chance.”

    — Gravity’s Rainbow

  52. #52 Ferrous Patella
    March 28, 2008

    I guess that one cannot nominate one of PedZed’s own posts for an OM. Oh well…maybe I will takes his example of disregard for propriety and break the copyright law by posting the whole thing to TO and see if it gets a Chez Watt.

  53. #53 negentropyeater
    March 28, 2008

    Although the parody is funny, I’m not sure it works that well.
    This is what Matthis said in defense of Expelled :
    “If this debate were really just about scientific ideas-when was the last time you heard about people getting together to have a passionate exchange about gravity or entropy? But you do get it with this one. The biggest part of this argument is about a worldview. If you acknowledge that design can be discovered scientifically, then the whole worldview of atheism crashes down around you. So they defend evolution with incredible vigor. And on the flip side, people ask, “Why is this being suppressed? Why do they have such a stranglehold on the science departments?”

    Now that’s quite remarkable,he says
    “If you acknowledge that design can be discovered scientifically, then the whole worldview of atheism crashes down around you.”
    But he should have said :
    “If you acknowledge that design has been discovered scientifically, then the whole worldview of atheism crashes down around you.”

  54. #54 Chris' Wills
    March 28, 2008

    Therefore, Catherine could have been a conduit to Newton’s not-at-all oedipal reading of Ovid thereby distorting Newton’s precarious essence and precious bodily fluids? Posted by: gerald spezio

    Well she was a Conduitt, but why would this distort the Master’s precious essence? I assume you meant precious rather than precarious, the master was always stable.

  55. #55 windy
    March 28, 2008

    Little known fact: bra-burning is actually an act of submission to Newtonist theories of gravity.

    Naughty!

  56. #56 #1 Dinosaur
    March 28, 2008

    Well done, but you’ve been beaten to it: The re-Discovery Institute has already said this:

    Warning: Gravity is “Only a Theory” by Ellery Schempp (c)(R)2005 revised 6/2007

    All physics textbooks should include this warning label:

    This textbook contains material on Gravity. Gravity is a theory, not a fact, regarding a natural law of attraction. Gravity should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

    The Universal Theory of Gravity is often taught by Gravitationalists in public schools as a “fact.” It is not a fact. It is not even a good theory.

    Is gravity universal? Maybe. Maybe not. No one has measured gravity for every atom and every star. And gravitationalists are not attempting to remedy this lack of experiment evidence, afraid of failure, no doubt. It is undeniably a religious belief that gravity is universal.

    Circular reasoning or elliptical reasoning?

    According to gravitationalists, gravity is a force between objects with mass; Lines of gravitational force are straight. Gravity does not make objects spin in circles or ellipses. But planets are observed to move in elliptical orbits around the sun. Trying to dodge this contradiction, gravitationalists turn logic on its head and claim orbits somehow prove gravity. Circular reasoning and elliptical reasoning are common among gravitationalists.

    They’ve also done Chemistry, Geology, Astronomy and Literature. (The whole site is a hoot.)
    “Teach ALL the controversies!”

  57. #57 Lee Graham
    March 28, 2008

    You just know the Newtonists are going to come up with an “equal and opposite” reaction to this post. Well I, for one, have had enough of their tyranny. It’s time for the rest of us to stand up, and let gravity fall!

  58. #58 Chris' Wills
    March 28, 2008

    Now that’s quite remarkable,he says
    “If you acknowledge that design can be discovered scientifically, then the whole worldview of atheism crashes down around you.”
    But he should have said :
    “If you acknowledge that design has been discovered scientifically, then the whole worldview of atheism crashes down around you.”
    Posted by: negentropyeater |

    Just shows that Mathis is a fool; science is Agnostic on personal philosophies.

  59. #59 Romeo Vitelli
    March 28, 2008

    “Catherine Barton Conduitt, served as his hostess in social affairs at his house on Jermyn Street in London; he was her “very loving Uncle”

    Why say you he died a virgin?”

    Conduitt had a good reason to call Isaac her uncle what with her being his niece and all. As for the other evidence, go to:

    http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_208.html

  60. #60 Monado, FCD
    March 28, 2008

    Very nice, but you forgot the understuffed straw men. “Yessir, ladies & germs, those evilNewtonists believe that THE EARTH SUCKS!”

  61. #61 James O'Malley
    March 28, 2008

    This is brilliant.

    Expelled has been debunked.

  62. #62 Bryson Brown
    March 28, 2008

    Just a small point about running out of fuel at 37,000 feet: I know the pilot of the ‘Gimli glider’, a Boeing 767 that ran out of fuel on a flight across Canada (a fuel supply miscalculation– litres, gallons…). He knew about the Gimli airport (an old military site, I think) and was an experienced glider pilot. He managed to bring the plane in safely. Crushed the nose gear, though, and a few passengers were injured (broken legs) at the tail, because the escape chute ended some distance above the runway. So, while there are plenty of things that can go fatally wrong at 37,000 feet, running out of fuel is one you just might survive…

    As for this gravity business and its complete disregard for human life, well, I blame God (if there is one); Newton just noticed how it worked. But the is/ought gap is beyond our local cdesignproponentsists’ grasp…

    As for Newton, though, you’re perfectly right: a very difficult guy (and a real hanging judge). Far from the kindly gentleman Darwin was.

  63. #63 James F
    March 28, 2008

    Chris P #37 wrote:

    From what I understand, although the mechanics of gravity are fully understood, the actual gravitational weak force and its mechanism is not.

    Sastra # 40 wrote:

    More holes in the theory, huh? Where’s the transitional forms?

    Well, I accept microgravity, but let’s see some examples of macrogravity!

  64. #64 Negi
    March 28, 2008

    This is like a better version of the courtier’s reply.

  65. #65 cureholder
    March 28, 2008

    Brilliant satire!

    However, contrary to your description of this “potentially lethal situation,” you are actually statistically safer on a jet than at virtually any other time in your life. I used to have a debilitating fear of flying (or rather, of crashing) and researched the topic until I became convinced of its safety.

    Of course, getting over my maternally-implanted fear of hell helped, as well. :)

  66. #66 Castaa
    March 28, 2008

    Brilliant counterpoint to the Darwin slanderers. Just great.

  67. #67 Scott
    March 28, 2008

    It’s (primarily) a flying aluminum can, not a “tin” can. :-) Tin’s not strong enough. [pedantic former aerospace engineer]

  68. #68 Joshua
    March 28, 2008

    You see, this is why I’m a Liebnizist.

  69. #69 W. H. Heydt
    March 28, 2008

    Now that you’ve deconstructed Newtonism, it’s time for you to address the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide. (After that you can educate people on the dangers of oxygen addiction….as little as 20% in air causes a fatal addicition!)

  70. #70 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 28, 2008

    What can I say? This is how to do it.

    You see, this is why I’m a Liebnizist.

    In that case you might want to learn to spell, let alone pronounce, Leibniz (ei and ie are not pronounced the same way in German).

  71. #71 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 28, 2008

    What can I say? This is how to do it.

    You see, this is why I’m a Liebnizist.

    In that case you might want to learn to spell, let alone pronounce, Leibniz (ei and ie are not pronounced the same way in German).

  72. #72 Kadath
    March 28, 2008

    I am always off doing something else when PZ posts something relevant to my field. Dammit.

  73. #73 Epikt
    March 28, 2008

    Romeo Vitelli:

    Don’t be dissing Newton. The man died a virgin and you can’t get much more wholesome than that.

    Chris’ Wills:

    Why say you he died a virgin?

    He was a physicist. Q.E.D.

  74. #74 Nomad
    March 28, 2008

    Hooray, I get to point out a mistake that PZ made. Admittedly it’s irrelevant to the intent of the post, but I have the opportunity and damnnit I’m going to take it! Even though several others have already done so… my story is better anyway.

    If the jet fuel stopped burning the jet would not “fall out of the sky”. And also, even more pedantically, yes, the fuel isn’t exploding, it’s burning. There IS an effort underway to make an engine that makes the fuel explode, the engine type is known as “pulse wave detonation”. It offers the potential of higher efficiency, but it’s difficult to achieve in practice. Some semi-conspiracy types suspect that the military already has a PWD engine in use on a next generation high speed spy plane.

    But about falling out of the sky, consider the case of an airliner flying across the ocean that ran out of fuel mid flight. Yeah, big oops there, I’ve never seen it adequately explained how the pilots missed this for so long. But they realized what was happening before they were completely empty and made a u-turn to head back to an airstrip on the Azores. They did run out of fuel while still in the air and in fact coasted for over a HALF AN HOUR before landing. An altitude of 7 miles gives you an AWFUL lot of glide time.

    As for the landing, it was hard and rough because the lack of power prevented them from using the flaps to lower their landing speed so they came down hard. Hard enough to blow the tires. Despite that they slid along the concrete with the wheel-less landing gear digging holes in the pavement until it ground to a stop. I still can’t believe how tough that spindly looking landing gear turned out to be.

    Airplanes are a bit more substantial than a tin can.

    Sorry.. after treading in the waters of biology where I’m hopelessly outclassed for so long I had to butt in in an area where I do know something.

    And about the Gimli Glider: OH! There’s a joke from an old Canadian comedy radio show that I never understood because I didn’t know what it was referring to. The joke goes “Air Canada clarified that the fuel level in the airliner wasn’t measured with a dipstick, but BY a dipstick”. That must have been what it was referring to.

  75. #75 MikeM
    March 28, 2008

    Never fear, for some gen-you-ine trinity believing Christian scientists have already started dealing the death blow to this indidious Newtonism — Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512

  76. #76 Autumn
    March 29, 2008

    @Epikt,
    Stephen Hawking is confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, yet has been schtupping his nurses for decades.
    Physics RAWKS.

  77. #77 dave
    March 29, 2008

    Great article.

    Once people subject themselves to the evils of Newtonism – once they’re actually falling – where are they headed? More importantly, where are they not headed? That’s right, not one falling person falls upwards towards Heaven, and that should tell us all we need to know about this “Newtonism”…

  78. #78 Michael X
    March 29, 2008

    This is going right next to Sam Harris’ “In defense of Witchcraft.” Wonderfully scathing PZ. Nothing points out stupidity like simple substitution.

  79. #79 Hampus
    March 29, 2008

    Hush and eat your peanuts, they’re playing mr Bean!

  80. #80 Penny
    March 29, 2008

    Re 72 and others.

    The best part of this whole parody is the complete mangling of reality presented as self-evident fact. Let’s be nice and assume that it’s not a mistake and not irrelevant to the intent of the post, shall we? Because it’s certainly very relevant to the pronouncement of creationists.

    ‘Fess up PZ – do you know what the wings are for, or not?

  81. #81 Azkyroth
    March 29, 2008

    Don’t be dissing Newton. The man died a virgin

    From the descriptions of his temperament and habits, it sounds like he deserved it.

  82. #82 dave
    March 29, 2008

    Owlmirror (#36):

    Professor, we need to tell the world how Newtonistism is making the world unsafe for levity. I suggest a movie documentary, perhaps titled: Defenestrated: No Hot Air Allowed.

    Love it. And it’s good that “defenestrated” has an F in it, because that’s given me an idea for the logo (it’s still a work in progress… I’m thinking we could include a picture of some sort of spokesperson over to the right, perhaps the presenter of the movie, but here it is so far): http://www.filenanny.com/files/47ee2b34818d712883/defenestrated2.jpg

  83. #83 Hipple, Rev. Paul T.
    March 29, 2008

    You folks never miss a chance to overlook the important facts, in favor of the lies that suit your stories.

    My Google Research proves incontrovertibly that his gravitational ‘Theory’ is built upon the same Dark False Bedrock as Darwin’s fantasy.

    You see, Isaac Newton had a confirmed case of Asperger’s syndrome; which, like dyslexia, is a neurological disorder directly caused by the Seed of the Demon. You can’t trust a thing that came out of the mouth of either man.

    Mr. Prof. PZ Myers felt some trepidation up there in the sky but, because he is godless, didn’t recognize it was God whispering to his Dark Soul that he was in great danger because maybe this Newton fellow wasn’t really the Cat’s Meow.

    This is why Faithful Christians never step on a plane or an elevator without first saying a prayer.

    http://rarediseases.about.com/cs/aspergersyndrome/a/041003.htm

  84. #84 Norman Doering
    March 29, 2008

    I hate to bring up a name I said shouldn’t be mentioned, but it reminds me of something Vox Day takes seriously:
    http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2007/03/religions-war-on-science-part-1.html

    Back when Vox wrote “The case against science” for World Net Daily.

  85. #85 Epikt
    March 29, 2008

    Autumn:

    Stephen Hawking is confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, yet has been schtupping his nurses for decades.

    I’d heard that. Predictably, my mind immediately gravitated to a vision of him getting boffed while mumbling “Oh, baby” with that weirdly-accented speech synthesizer he used to use.

    Physics RAWKS.

    I agree. Being of that persuasion myself, I know the stereotype isn’t true. Still, when your wife buys you a t-shirt that reads, “Flirt harder. I’m a physicist,” you begin to wonder.

  86. #86 bubba
    March 29, 2008

    I am happy to know that my cat is the same as a watermelun. Why I am goin to drop both off my roof and they will both land on their feet in good shape. Isick Neuton! HAH!! That Ienstien feller was even worst! CURVED SPACE???? Why teaching this garbage to our youngsters will make it ok for them to grow warped minds!!!!

  87. #87 gerald spezio
    March 29, 2008

    Chris Wills; All essences are precarious by definition because long before Nisbet or Mooney tried; Hegel masterfully obscured the essences by ignominiously failing to tie down the theory of framing as non-communication.

    Like their obscurantist predecessor, Nisbet & Mooney are so preoccupied with their own precious essence that they routinely neglect the preposterousness of their utterances – le discourse yuppie.

    Newton’s Freudian fear of the “stable” (as in farm) as a Platonic form without continual animal fornications led him (Newton) into a unifying but still sexist (Unitarian) world view of abstinence from all farm & framing speculation, including intercourse with framing devils (framing non fingo).

    Such blatant sexism exhibited by Newton caused famous feminist theorist, Sandra Harding, to frame the PRINCIPIA – “a rape manual.”

    Harding’s conclusions follow logically from Derrida’s enigmatic clues about “framing the discourse” and the center-less-ness of political debate.

  88. #88 thwaite
    March 29, 2008

    The new (April) issue of Natural History” magazine (not yet updated online) has DeGrasse Tyson’s article “Spacecraft Behaving Badly”, about the Pioneer 10 and 11 space probes. They’re still traveling out of our solar system and functioning though launched in the early 1970’s. The bad behavior is the “Pioneer anomaly”: they’re now each about a quarter million miles less far out than they should be. Having noted “hmm, that’s odd” as soon as the 1980’s, scientists spent time excluding mechanical and thermal hypotheses for the slowdown. Tyson writes that now “The remaining explanations range from the everyday to the exotic. Among them is the suspicion that in the outer solar system, Newtonian gravity begins to fail.”

  89. #89 Lyle G
    March 29, 2008

    I have heard of a preacher who blamed Einstein for moral relativism.

  90. #90 dustbubble
    March 29, 2008

    I blames apples. Again.

  91. #91 MAJeff, OM
    March 29, 2008

    He plotted mathematically and with complex formulae the rates that objects, including people, would fall, and the force with which they would strike the ground — it’s hard not to imagine him cackling with glee like a psychopathic child pulling the wings off flies as he calculated the trajectories of objects, like people, flying through space. He was a horrible man.

    During my sophomore year in college, someone committed suicide by jumping from the 10th floor of a residence hall. Some members of my floor, taking their freshman “Introductory Physics for people going into science and engineering” class (as opposed to “Introductory physics for everyone else”) calculated the speed at which he was going when he made with the sidewalk. (The accidental suicide that year from autoerotic asphyxiation with a phone cord was less easily worked out mathematically.)

    Apparently, they were just being good Newtonians.

  92. #92 Frank
    March 29, 2008

    “I have let myself go, just as, I can see, many of my fellow Midwesterners. We despair because of Newton, and seek forlorn solace in trying to increase our wind resistance.” – PZ

    As a fellow midwesterner this had me laughing out loud. I could just picture all of these flannel shirted, corn cob smoking old guys at a diner yelling “If God wanted a man to fly, he’d have given him wings!”

    That line makes my day.

  93. #93 arachnophilia
    March 29, 2008

    scientists have been “questioning” newton’s theories for the last 100 years or so. for instance, the fact that they utterly break down at certain speeds, and fail to account for things like the orbit of mercury. as someone said above: general relativity. and even that breaks down at a certain point too.

    and mathematicians “question” newton from the other angle, whether those theories were ever really his. see, it seems that newton plagairized much of the calculus.

  94. #94 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 30, 2008

    Tyson writes that now “The remaining explanations range from the everyday to the exotic. Among them is the suspicion that in the outer solar system, Newtonian gravity begins to fail.”

    Considering the appreciative amount of other spacecraft anomalies from closer trajectories it could be something related:

    “I would be very surprised if we have discovered two independent spacecraft anomalies,” Anderson told SPACE.com. “I suspect they are connected, but I really do not know.”

  95. #95 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 30, 2008

    Tyson writes that now “The remaining explanations range from the everyday to the exotic. Among them is the suspicion that in the outer solar system, Newtonian gravity begins to fail.”

    Considering the appreciative amount of other spacecraft anomalies from closer trajectories it could be something related:

    “I would be very surprised if we have discovered two independent spacecraft anomalies,” Anderson told SPACE.com. “I suspect they are connected, but I really do not know.”

  96. #96 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 30, 2008

    D’oh – I meant appreciable amount.

  97. #97 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    March 30, 2008

    D’oh – I meant appreciable amount.

  98. #98 PeteK
    March 30, 2008

    Angels push the planets around the sun, and push parachutists down, not that atheistic theory of gravity…Newtonism also gave rise to communism, homosexuality, abortion, the New World Order, and unwed mothers with tattoos of neurotrasmitter molecules on their breasts…

    Or maybe that’s reductio ad absurdum…

  99. #99 gerald spezio
    March 30, 2008

    I remembered that I had seen a very similar; “let’s knock Newton” satirical post recently.
    Here it is and only a few weeks old.
    Did Porkchop help PZ’s creativity?

    “I’d like to take this opportunity to promote my new book, From Newton to Hitler, in which I demonstrate conclusively that Hitler’s nefarious plan to lob V2 rockets at London can be traced back to Newton’s materialistic theory of gravity.

    Actually, that might be a less crazy idea than the Darwin fantasy. After all, Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark did promote ‘Aryan Physics’ in the official SS newspaper, and they claimed Newton as the prototypical Aryan physicist (must have confused that with ‘Arian’).”

    Posted by: porkchop | February 23, 2008 4:23 PM

  100. #100 Robster, FCD
    March 30, 2008

    Oddly enough, I have had a discussion with a gravity denier. They do exist, and academic freedom would enable them, HIV/AIDS denialists, and germ theory deniers in the door. Hell, any kind of anti science woo would have to be taught in science classes.

    This isn’t just about creationism, but one of the few valid slippery slope arguments in existence. Every niche woo group would seek out protection, and science courses would become pointless, while tenure could never be denied to unproductive researchers, on the basis of this so called academic freedom.

    It would be more appropriately named Freedom to Fail without Consequence.

  101. #101 A. Lurker
    March 31, 2008

    Awesome post, PZ! My hat‘s off to you!

  102. #102 Meredith L. Patterson
    March 31, 2008

    Even linguistics can’t escape. Submitted(*) for your consideration, a Canadian perspective on the Wrathful Dispersion controversy.

    *tongue-in-cheekly

  103. #103 Johan
    May 30, 2008

    Questioninn whether Newton got the exponent right has actuallt been done several times. Euler appearantly did it to explain certain anamolies in the motion of the Moon that went way with better observations and more exact calculations of what Newtonian mechanics would suggest.

    Sundman, the guy who solved the three-body problem, also did something similar to explain the motion of Mercury. Einstein had a better explanation though.

    And even now, people are busy conducting experiments to determine whether Newton’s law of gravity need to be corrected at short distances. There is also Mond and the Pioneer anomaly mentioned earliet.

  104. #104 melinda
    November 25, 2008

    “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

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