Friday, January 11, 2013

From the Liar: Ask Dr. Psience

From the annals of the National Liar
Volume 0, #0, April 1, 1993

Ask Dr. Psience

               Dear Dr. Psience:
               How do airplane fly?
                              Signed, Light-Headed
               Dear Light-Headed:
               There exist aerodynamic equations and wind-tunnel models; but those are all rationalizations. The real reason why airplanes fly is because people believe in them. Emboldened by faith, people pay their tickets, file into the airplane, and strap on their seat belts; lo and behold, the airplane flies. It is an instance of mind over matter; the law of levity. The aerodynamic equations are for the benefit of skeptics.
               Similarly, telephones are not really explained by electric currents and long-distance microwave relays. These too are rationalizations. In fact, telephones are ritualized telepathy.

               Dear Dr. Psience:
               Where are all the extraterrestrials?  You’d think some of them would have visited us by now.
                              Signed, Lonely
               Dear Lonely:
               The extraterrestrials are already here. They are all around us; we merely cannot see them as yet.
               Researchers at the Stanislaw Lem Institute have proven that the physical processes that we regard as natural are, from the extraterrestrial point of view, artificial. Whether the cosmos is our invention or theirs remains to be determined.

               Dear Dr. Psience:
               All of my atoms are 99.999999999999% empty space! How come I don’t fall through the floor?
                              Signed, Dizzy
               Dear Dizzy:
               Because electrons have spin ½. Such particles are called “fermions”; no two of them can be in the same place at the same time. If not, then you would fall through the floor; and what’s more, there would be no chemical bonds. Matter as we know it would not exist.
               Quarks are also fermions, and yet you can find a triple of them inside every nucleon! Why? Because they differ in their “color”; an unobservable quantum number. This saves the theory; but it leaves open the possibility that electrons might also acquire unobservable quantum numbers, allowing them to overlap.
               So who knows, dear Dizzy? You might fall through the floor after all!

               Dear Dr. Psience:
               Why is the night sky dark? If the universe is infinite and full of stars, then the night sky should be one solid blaze fo starlight. Why isn’t it?           
                              Signed, Benighted
               Dear Benighted:
               The usual theories include: the “tired light” theory, which says that light loses energy on its way here; the “fractal universe” theory, which says that the cosmos is made of clumps of clumps, so that most of it is empty space; the “Steady State” theory, which says that the universe is full of receding stars that appear out of nowhere; and the infamous “Big Bang” theory, now discredited. (See the article “Big Bang Theory Explodes” elsewhere in this issue.)
               The real explanation is simple. If the night sky were one solid blaze of starlight, then there would be no mystery to the universe, and life would be impossible.  Since life is, in fact, possible, it follows that mystery does exist; therefore the night sky is dark. And so it is!

               In last issue’s schematic diagram of a thermonuclear fusion reactor, the leads to the magnetic field stabilization grid were accidentally reversed. The National Liar apologizes for any industrial mishaps that may have resulted from this error.

               NEXT TIME IN “ASK DR. PSIENCE”:
               The Missing Mass, the Law of Levity, Medical Uses for Plutonium, the Population of  the Universe

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