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Weird science

- May 6, 2009

I am supremely ignorant of physics. I never even took a physics course in high school. When I hear talk of “the theory of everything” and read accounts of bizarre-sounding thought experiments and billion-dollar expenditures for experimental physics research, I simply shake my head in wonderment. The choice for people like me seems simple: We can either take all the weird ideas that physicists produce on faith (or at least on confidence that these are very smart people who presumably know whereof they speak) or we can scoff that what they’re coming up with just defies “common sense,” our religious convictions, or whatever. Of course, things get more complicated when the physicists themselves don’t agree. Faced with that situation, our best bet is probably just to go about life as usual — get up, feed the cats, go to work, eat lunch, get some exercise, come home, eat dinner, watch “American Idol,” go to bed — while letting the physicsts duke it out among themselves.

Anyway, yesterday I happened upon an account of what seem to me to be some unusually weird research findings in physics, even by the elevatedly weird standards of physics. As it happens, I found this account in, of all places, the Wall Street Journal. Because I doubt that most readers of “The Monkey Cage” read the Wall Street Journal, here, as a public service, is the story.

I really have nothing to add to this story, except to proclaim my gratitude that I ended up in so simple a field as political science.