As many a thoughtless person has observed when learning what I do for a living, physics is really hard. But you may have wondered just how much harder is physics than other subjects? Well, now, we have a quantitative answer:
This is a shelf of books at the Burlington, MA Barnes and Noble, clearly showing that while it is possible to learn all about politics and philosophy in thirty seconds, understanding Einstein takes three whole minutes. So, relativity is at least six times more difficult than philosophy.
(This presumably explains why there are so many physicists who dabble in philosophy, compared to philosophers who dabble in physics…)
Now, there are obviously some flaws in this method– in particular, the fact that both politics and philosophy require thirty seconds to grasp suggests that they are overestimating the difficulty of politics, and may be losing sensitivity at the low end of the difficulty scale. This measurement can thus be treated only as a lower bound on the difficulty ratio between relativity and philosophy or politics.
Further investigations will be required to pin the ratio down more precisely. We’ll see if Emmy can be made to sit still for some philosophical discussions, once the book-in-progress is finished.