0675: "Revolutionary"

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Zenexer
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0675: "Revolutionary"

Postby Zenexer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:00 am UTC

Image

URL: http://xkcd.com/675/
Title text: "I mean, what's more likely -- that I have uncovered fundamental flaws in this field that no one in it has ever thought about, or that I need to read a little more? Hint: it's the one that involves less work."

Idungetit. It's funny, but I think I'm missing something. Racecar on a train idea... what could that be? Varying speeds? Hmm...

Edit:
(12:06:03 AM) Justin Gerard: IF you've got a train moving at the speed of light, then you go faster in the race car

Ah. :P

Edit #2:
phlips great explanation as to what the *hell* this is talking about.
Last edited by Zenexer on Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:29 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby pokoleo » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:03 am UTC

...yup. that's the world of xkcd.

How about a rail train on a rail train on a rocket?

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joee
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby joee » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:03 am UTC

Yes, smart people exist, but it's quite unlikely that you've just disproved [field] after [short amount of time.

Also, why do people start threads when they have nothing to say about the comic? Hrm, editing in comments to save time and win the comic posting race? >.<

hi glasnt!
Last edited by joee on Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:05 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Hi glasnt.

Zenexer
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Zenexer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:04 am UTC

I don't get it. That's something to say. :P (Googles random terms from comic)
Last edited by Zenexer on Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:04 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby FishyFred » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:04 am UTC

I kind of want to show this to the global warming denialists, but I already know their response will be exactly the same as the creationist response.

"The scientists don't really believe the theory."

I wish I was kidding.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:04 am UTC

I'm dreadfully reminded of airplanes on treadmills. :(
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby eliana » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:05 am UTC

How could a man with a goatee be wrong? Not possible. Clearly, physicists have some serious thinking to do; with such facial hair comes great wisdom.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby ohaus » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:05 am UTC

I just want to know why that guy has a beard and an oddly-shaped head. Is he supposed to represent somebody?

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Vincent91 » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:05 am UTC

pokoleo wrote:How about a rail train on a rail train on a rocket?

A raptor on a rail train on a rail train on a rocket.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Zenexer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:05 am UTC

(12:06:03 AM) Justin Gerard: IF you've got a train moving at the speed of light, then you go faster in the race car
Ah. :P

π=3.15
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby π=3.15 » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:06 am UTC

Oh man if the train were going .99c and the racecar was going .99c on the train, the racecar would be 1.98c, he's right!
Last edited by π=3.15 on Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:10 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby cprocjr » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:07 am UTC

Who's the bearded guy? I don't think I've seen him before! Maybe I just don't remember seeing him in any previous comics.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Omegaton » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:07 am UTC

AUGH, this is all kinds of relevant to things I've been thinking about. Too many non-science people play with science without knowing what it is. There are also a few choice people I'd like to show this to.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby DarthMarth » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:11 am UTC

This comic gave me my first "get out of my head, Randall" moment. This comic is about me, and my disillusionment with special relativity after this semester! That guy is me, only with a goatee and philosophy major.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby lu6cifer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:13 am UTC

This reminds me of the guy who posted saying he had proved Fermat's Last Theorem.
Also reminds of my friend, who once tried to convince me that he'd disproven evolution...
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Zenexer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:14 am UTC

cprocjr wrote:Who's the bearded guy? I don't think I've seen him before! Maybe I just don't remember seeing him in any previous comics.


http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?tit ... =331534447

Houston, I think we've got a new character.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby s0merand0mdude » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:15 am UTC

So, basically, the guy with the goatee came up with the idea that if you put a race car on a fast moving train you'll disprove special relativity, since the race car will be going visibly faster than the train when the train is moving at the speed of light. Guy without a goatee has his doubts about goatee man's theory, since goatee man just spent an hour reading the Wikipedia article before hatching his idea. amirite, or was my cursory look at the intro to Wikipedia's article on special relativity too short?

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby FCN » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:16 am UTC

Special relativity implies time dilation: moving clocks go slower than stationary clocks.

So let's say that you're standing still, and a racecar goes by you at half the speed of light - the racecar's clock goes slower than your clock.

But actually, you and the racecar are on a train moving at half the speed of light in the opposite direction from the direction that the racecar is moving - that doesn't change anything from your point of view, so it's still true that the racecar's clock goes slower than your clock.

I'm standing still next to the train, and you're on the train going at half the speed of light, so your clock is going slower than my clock.

The racecar's clock is slower than your clock which is slower than my clock, so the racecar's clock is slower than my clock.

But the racecar and I are stationary relative to each other - it's right next to me, working really hard to stay next to me on a train that's moving at half the speed of light by driving in the opposite direction at half the speed of light. So my clock and the racecar's clock must be going at the same rate.

Contradiction! Special relativity is overturned.

Edit:
Some people found this unclear, so let me draw a diagram in words. I am standing still. Relative to me, the train is moving left to right at .5c. Relative to the train, the racecar is moving right to left at .5c. So, relative to me the racecar is stationary, which means that the racecar clock must be going at the same rate as my clock. But the train clock is slower than my clock (by time dilation) and the racecar clock is slower than the train clock (for the same reason), so the racecar clock must be slower than my clock. Contradiction.
Last edited by FCN on Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:48 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Zenexer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:18 am UTC

FCN wrote:Special relativity implies time dilation: moving clocks go slower than stationary clocks.

So let's say that you're standing still, and a racecar goes by you at half the speed of light - the racecar's clock goes slower than your clock.

But actually, you and the racecar are on a train moving at half the speed of light in the opposite direction from the direction that the racecar is moving - that doesn't change anything from your point of view, so it's still true that the racecar's clock goes slower than your clock.

I'm standing still next to the train, and you're on the train going at half the speed of light, so your clock is going slower than my clock.

The racecar's clock is slower than your clock which is slower than my clock, so the racecar's clock is slower than my clock.

But the racecar and I are stationary relative to each other - it's right next to me, working really hard to stay next to me on a train that's moving at half the speed of light by driving in the opposite direction at half the speed of light. So my clock and the racecar's clock must be going at the same rate.

Contradiction! Special relativity is overturned.


I propose we storm the President of Physics' office at once.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Siguy » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:19 am UTC

Brings to mind the trope "Did you just punch out Cthulhu?" from TVtropes.
cprocjr wrote:Who's the bearded guy? I don't think I've seen him before! Maybe I just don't remember seeing him in any previous comics.

Obviously Gordon Freeman, sans glasses.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby phlip » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:22 am UTC

s0merand0mdude wrote:So, basically, the guy with the goatee came up with the idea that if you put a race car on a fast moving train you'll disprove special relativity, since the race car will be going visibly faster than the train when the train is moving at the speed of light. Guy without a goatee has his doubts about goatee man's theory, since goatee man just spent an hour reading the Wikipedia article before hatching his idea. amirite, or was my cursory look at the intro to Wikipedia's article on special relativity too short?

You didn't get down to the link to the velocity addition formula which says that, for instance, if you've got a train going 0.75c relative to the ground, and on that train there's a racecar going 0.75c relative to the train, the racecar will be going not 1.5c relative to the ground, but 0.96c.

The velocity addition formula is a lot of fun to play with. Almost all these SR-disproving thought experiments boil down to misunderstanding velocity-addition, relativity of simultaneity, or both. FCN's (joking, I think) post falls under the "relativity of simultaneity" option.
Last edited by phlip on Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:25 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby π=3.15 » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:24 am UTC

FCN wrote:Special relativity implies time dilation: moving clocks go slower than stationary clocks.

So let's say that you're standing still, and a racecar goes by you at half the speed of light - the racecar's clock goes slower than your clock.

But actually, you and the racecar are on a train moving at half the speed of light in the opposite direction from the direction that the racecar is moving - that doesn't change anything from your point of view, so it's still true that the racecar's clock goes slower than your clock.

I'm standing still next to the train, and you're on the train going at half the speed of light, so your clock is going slower than my clock.

The racecar's clock is slower than your clock which is slower than my clock, so the racecar's clock is slower than my clock.

But the racecar and I are stationary relative to each other - it's right next to me, working really hard to stay next to me on a train that's moving at half the speed of light by driving in the opposite direction at half the speed of light. So my clock and the racecar's clock must be going at the same rate.

Contradiction! Special relativity is overturned.


I don't see why your clock and the racecar's clock would be going at the same rate. If they were then the racecar would not be going at half the speed of light but would be in your stationary frame, not the trains sub-light speed frame?
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby guyy » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:26 am UTC

Yes, but, if everyone thought that way, how would we get new theories? Special relativity itself was a ridiculous overturning of basic physics ideas (mainly, that time is absolute) based on simple thought experiments (if light travels at a universally constant speed, what happens if you're moving relative to a photon?). Just because an idea is uninformed doesn't mean it's wrong. Probably wrong, but not definitely wrong.

If it is wrong because it's uninformed, it's better to just point the person to the probably-already-existing counterargument than to just say "you don't know enough, so you must be wrong."

Edit: I'm guessing FCN's paradox above would disappear if you actually used Lorentz transformations to find the time in each frame; with the racecar going backwards, the time may not change in the way you might expect. I don't really have time to check that, though.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Zenexer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:31 am UTC

guyy wrote:I'm guessing FCN's paradox above would disappear if you actually used Lorentz transformations to find the time in each frame; with the racecar going backwards, the time may not change in the way you might expect. I don't really have time to check that, though.


I'm going to step out on a limb here and say that exactly 4,394,984 physicists have already done just that.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby sje46 » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:32 am UTC

Zenexer wrote:
(12:06:03 AM) Justin Gerard: IF you've got a train moving at the speed of light, then you go faster in the race car

Ah. :P

Who is this? Is this just some nobody on an IRC channel or something? Because Google's not helping.

Anyways, I don't understand why people don't get the joke. He's poking fun at those egotistical foolish people who think they're much smarter than they actually are, able to solve problems that the experts in the field know inside out.

Something I actually did a lot, as a young philosophy. I used to think that I was the only one who realized that maybe all this is a dream, and I am the only person who exists. Or thought that I could use magnets as a reusable resource to move trains (not realizing that perpetual machines are impossible).
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Zenexer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:40 am UTC

sje46 wrote:
Zenexer wrote:
(12:06:03 AM) Justin Gerard: IF you've got a train moving at the speed of light, then you go faster in the race car

Ah. :P

Who is this? Is this just some nobody on an IRC channel or something? Because Google's not helping.

Anyways, I don't understand why people don't get the joke. He's poking fun at those egotistical foolish people who think they're much smarter than they actually are, able to solve problems that the experts in the field know inside out.

Something I actually did a lot, as a young philosophy. I used to think that I was the only one who realized that maybe all this is a dream, and I am the only person who exists. Or thought that I could use magnets as a reusable resource to move trains (not realizing that perpetual machines are impossible).


That is Justin Gerard. Yes, he is just some nobody on an IRC channel or something. No, Google will not help you stalk him.

I don't understand why people don't get the joke, either; the explanation is right in the first post. Yes, he is poking fun at people like my 8th grade Social Studies teacher.

Everyone does that, not just philosophers. Everyone wonders if this is just a dream (see: Matrix). Yes, everyone thinks of the magnets-make-it-move-forever thing, and eventually the more complex motor-and-transformer thing. Then we realize that makes no sense, along with all other perpetual machines.
Last edited by Zenexer on Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:41 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby achan1058 » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:41 am UTC

Somehow I don't think this comic is a joke...... There are too many of such people out there. :roll:

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby jeszjesz » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:42 am UTC

Dunning-Kruger strikes again.
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Zenexer » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:42 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:Somehow I don't think this comic is a joke...... There are too many of such people out there. :roll:


*raises hand*

Want to know how many infinitely long prime numbers I've found? Start counting--I'll let you know when you get close.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Glade » Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:49 am UTC

To me, this comic illustrates the difference between wanting to learn and wanting to know. Someone who wants to know reads a few paragraphs on Wikipedia, disproves the universe, and emails the President of Physics "I PROVED YOUR'E RWONG" . Someone who wants to learn goes and asks the local Physics representative, "So , what's up with this?"

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby aiusepsi » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:11 am UTC

guyy wrote:Yes, but, if everyone thought that way, how would we get new theories? Special relativity itself was a ridiculous overturning of basic physics ideas (mainly, that time is absolute) based on simple thought experiments (if light travels at a universally constant speed, what happens if you're moving relative to a photon?). Just because an idea is uninformed doesn't mean it's wrong. Probably wrong, but not definitely wrong.

If it is wrong because it's uninformed, it's better to just point the person to the probably-already-existing counterargument than to just say "you don't know enough, so you must be wrong."

Edit: I'm guessing FCN's paradox above would disappear if you actually used Lorentz transformations to find the time in each frame; with the racecar going backwards, the time may not change in the way you might expect. I don't really have time to check that, though.
Mostly we get new theories because we know our old theories are wrong or incomplete.

Like special relativity came about because physicists realised that there was something the matter with Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, especially with relation to the velocity of propagation of light. This is why the Lorentz transformations were developed, for instance - they're the transformations under which the Maxwell theory is covariant. It took someone like Einstein to put together the puzzle pieces and realise that electromagnetism made a lot more sense if you threw away your old ideas of space and time, but it grew very organically from the incompleteness of the existing theory.

Similarly quantum mechanics came out of several other inconsistencies in the known ideas of physics. For instance, that a classical atom would be unstable because of bremsstrahlung radiation, or the explanation of the photoelectric effect.

The real trouble with today's physics is that why our theories are broken and incomplete are a lot harder to understand. Like that many possible quantum fields are unrenormalisible, or that you need a Higgs effect to bring mass terms into the Standard model (which is something to do with spinor fields... exams this year are going to be fun!). Sure, you might stumble across a simple thought problem that happens to fix all these problems, but it's pretty unlikely.

Incidentally, for fun with people who don't like relativity, see: http://groups.google.com/group/sci.physics.relativity/

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby hellochar » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:31 am UTC

Glade wrote:To me, this comic illustrates the difference between wanting to learn and wanting to know. Someone who wants to know reads a few paragraphs on Wikipedia, disproves the universe, and emails the President of Physics "I PROVED YOUR'E RWONG" . Someone who wants to learn goes and asks the local Physics representative, "So , what's up with this?"

Explain to me the difference between wanting to know and wanting to learn?

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby phlip » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:40 am UTC

hellochar wrote:Explain to me the difference between wanting to know and wanting to learn?

Perhaps a better wording would be "wanting to appear to know". As in, the knowledge isn't the end, but a means to things like bragging rights, and being able to think you're better than other people. Which doesn't require actual knowledge or learnings, but rather just thinking that you know stuff, and knowing enough to fool people... and possibly enough to fool yourself too (Dunning-Kruger has been mentioned). Whereas on the other hand you have someone who wants to actually learn stuff, either for its own sake or to put the knowledge to use... and considers bragging rights to be just an added bonus. Here, there is no substitute for the real thing.

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Airbuilder7 » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:55 am UTC

I've been lurking off-and-on; this comic finally inspired me to sign up. I'm an engineering student, and this comic reminds me of one of my literature professor's rants about "the science mafia..." I'll have to show this to him.

FCN wrote:Special relativity implies time dilation: moving clocks go slower than stationary clocks.

So let's say that you're standing still, and a racecar goes by you at half the speed of light...

I'd think you'd be too dead to care what the clock said. :P

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Kyrn » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:03 am UTC

Zenexer wrote:
guyy wrote:I'm guessing FCN's paradox above would disappear if you actually used Lorentz transformations to find the time in each frame; with the racecar going backwards, the time may not change in the way you might expect. I don't really have time to check that, though.


I'm going to step out on a limb here and say that exactly 4,394,984 physicists have already done just that.


That seems far too many. I propose a Nerd Sniping campaign.
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby erhbr » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:10 am UTC

Glade wrote:To me, this comic illustrates the difference between wanting to learn and wanting to know. Someone who wants to know reads a few paragraphs on Wikipedia, disproves the universe, and emails the President of Physics "I PROVED YOUR'E RWONG" . Someone who wants to learn goes and asks the local Physics representative, "So , what's up with this?"

The second is what I essentially do with my professors when I know they made a mistake. It usually results in a better grade and better feelings overall than using the first method.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Pxtl » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:17 am UTC

When your theory brings back dim memories of Yahoo Serious' "Young Einstein", it means you're doing something wrong.

/distinctly remember the "moving forward onboard a train" argument happening in that movie.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby ramparts » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:21 am UTC

Praise the Lawd! Physics cranks are some of the most annoying folk on the planet. I understand wanting to learn, and I understand the Einstein impulse to an extent, but the chances that a non-expert will solve a problem in modern physics is vanishingly small.

Let's face it, the next great theory isn't going to come from a non-expert in a patent office. Modern physics just requires too much training, especially mathematical. The physics of Einstein's time was a lot simpler; not to mention that Einstein already knew quite a bit of physics at the time, something the cranks who know no physics but invoke his name conveniently ignore.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby TheoGB » Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:21 am UTC

I just wanted to come in to praise a stickman being able to have a recognisable goatee. I don't wish to relive my physics degree and attempts to comprehend Special Relativity fully so I'll just leave it there.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Snowdream » Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:25 am UTC

I'll be honest: I hate philosophy majors who assume that they are right, and the world is wrong. And I especially dislike the ones who go out looking for arguments! *Pet peeve alert*

They take the beautiful tools that the major gives you, and then abuse them to act like a pompous earwig! Philosophy is such a needed field, and it's so important. So I don't think it's to far to ask this:

If you are a Philosophy major, please don't be a jerk about it. If a person is arguing something minor, leave it be... please.

Because I'm sick... sick and tired of debating about the existentialism behind red-rover-red-rover! >:(
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