. . . Wednesday March 2, 2005

Physicist Smackdown

The heated debate over the theories of everything continues with the release of Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe wherein the author gives a quick overview of everything in the universe in just under 1,100 pages.

One of his colleagues reviewed his tome thusly: “You’re completely right, of course … but totally misguided.”

I must admit that I don’t really get into the whole string theory thing (I barely understand how my typed words can appear on your screen), but my wife is a closet physicist and a major Brian Greene fan so I am surrounded by the language of these deep thinkers (and regularly find myself watching Nova on NFL Sundays).

We were lucky enough to have dinner with the string theorist extraordinaire during last week’s Ted Conference. We didn’t actually attend the conference, just one of the dinners. All the schmoozing without any of the cost. What can I say, Greene’s got his genius and I’ve got mine.

The room was filled with the likes of Dean Kamen, Jeff Bezos and other tech superheroes, but for my wife Gina, it was all about physics. And much to my surprise, she managed to engage Brian Greene in an hour-long dicussion on whether or not one could create a mathematical equation for fabulousness. This was Gina’s way of merging her intellectual area of interest with her day job.

And it worked. I mean they were talking about X’s and N’s and other math dilly-dallies as they related to being fabulous. At one point, I asked: “If string theory suggests that the universe can tear apart, can we accurately predict – depending on seasons and styles – which color of fabric would be most appropriate to fill that tear.”

Fortunately for me, the question got a polite laugh from those around the table before Gina and Brian Greene quickly got back to their formulations. I had no luck working their discussion of Heisenberg, Schrodinger and Feynman back around towards my areas of expertise; All Natural Peanut-Butter, Sports Talk Radio and 80s references made during episodes of The O.C.

I was hoping that before the night ended, I could convince Dr. Greene to help me come up with a mathematical equation for how long one can use cheap jokes to hide the fact that he has know idea what other people around him are talking about. I just want to have some idea of when my luck will run out.

I’m hanging by a string.

(Whoops, that may have been it…)

Concentration is important!