Just so we’re all singing off the same page – I’m not real clear on a lot of scientific things. When I hear something that razes my hackles though (even if I don’t quite understand it), I run to Jim and DEMAND an explanation, hoping of course that he can dumb it down enough to make it crystal clear to me. I swear the man could teach physics to five-year olds.
I heard this guru on television talking about subatomic particles and how real scientists proved that when you look at something, you change it. He went on to say if you see the world as hostile and cruel, it will be. Ok, so if I look at Iraq it will turn into Disneyland? I marched into Jim’s den, hands on hips, nose in the air, and repeated what I had heard and said, “So what is this crap?” He started to explain that when you measure something at the subatomic level you do in fact change it. I said, “You can stop right there. This pencil in my hand is made up of sub-atomic particles. I’m going to measure it with my ruler. Is it going to change into a lampshade?”
The man has such a cute smile when he knows he’s up against She Who Must Know. Very patiently he explained that the way in which scientists measure particles affects the particles themselves by pushing them around a bit, so indeed the act of measuring particles changes them.
“So why didn’t the guru just say that it’s the measuring that changes subatomic particles, not looking at them with the proper perspective? The truth is we’d have to go and measure Iraq to change it!”
“Well, you have to consider the audience,” he said.
And you know what came rushing into my mind? I hadn’t thought about that philosophy class in a hundred years. There were days when that class drove me crazy. One morning the topic was “this desk isn’t here”. The professor called on one student after another looking for proof that the desk was indeed there. I sat through so many convoluted discussions revolving around proofs that when he finally got to me I wanted to kill someone. So I said, “You put your foot under the leg of that desk and I’m going to drop the desk on your foot and then you can tell me if the desk exists.”
And then I remembered the Professor of Urban Affairs who invited me into his car for a private conversation that I arrogantly thought would have something to do with sex. Instead he said to me, “I’ll give you an A in the class if you’ll stop coming. You are a pain in the ass. I don’t want to work this hard, I have a day job.”