Wednesday, May 26, 2010


So, earlier today I thought to myself, "Hey, just what the hell IS energy anyway?"

Turns out I'm asking a question physicists themselves have been asking for quite a while now. Shamefully the page I found most informative about this came from a site featuring a winged turtle, a creature I normally wouldn't trust as a cereal mascot, much less to teach me fundamentals of physics.

Thankfully, the money quote there is from cereal-unaffiliated Richard Feynman:

"It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge of what energy is. We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount."

No knowledge of what energy is? Surely you're joking, Mister Feynman! Ha ha.

Anyway, realizing the ambiguity about what energy "really is" (or more specifically, what our state of knowledge is regarding it) has deep philosophical and intellectual consequences and blah blah blah. Let's put the pontification aside for a moment and have fun.

One of the less known joys of being a Catholic who's actually read about his faith is the ability to do the Immaculate Conception Quiz Trick on unsuspecting people. I'm sure the people who come to this blog are familiar with it: Ask someone who is supposedly knowledgeable about Christianity or Catholicism what the Immaculate Conception is. Most of the time, if you know how to spot a bluffer, they'll say that it's the doctrine that Christ was born of a virgin. At which point you say "No, it's the doctrine that Mary was conceived immaculately, ie without sin". They grumble and either owe you five bucks or, better yet, get exposed as a bullshitter. Either way, it's a fun trick.

So, for those of you with a slight strain of whatever Vox Day has in your blood, I'm going to tip you off to a better trick: Read up on the link I provided, along with a few other associated links, and ask a person what energy really is. Chances are - again, if you know how to spot a bluffer - you're dealing with someone who's never taken the time to learn more than a cursory and pragmatic definition of the word. Enjoy the results.

1 comment:

Ilíon said...

"So, for those of you with a slight strain of whatever Vox Day has in your blood, ..."

The 'iota' factor? ;-)

In the comments to his recent post on Greek-letter ranking of men-as-men, someone asked him under which letter he is to be categorized.

My “answer” is ‘iota’ – for ‘ιερκ’ ;-)