0793: "Physicists"

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LucasBrown
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0793: "Physicists"

Postby LucasBrown » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:00 am UTC

Image
Alt text: "If you need some help with the math, let me know, but that should be enough to get you started! Huh? No, I don't need to read your thesis, I can imagine roughly what it says."

As a student of physics, I feel highly insulted.

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"Physicists" Discussion (#793)

Postby Bobsama » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:01 am UTC

Image

Alt-text: If you need some help with the math, let me know, but that should be enough to get you started! Huh? No, I don't need to read your thesis, I can imagine roughly what it says.

I hate when I see tags randomly.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby eaglef2 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:02 am UTC

by the comic?
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby sugarhyped » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:02 am UTC

LucasBrown wrote:As a student of physics, I feel highly insulted.


As long as he's not attacking anthropologists...
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby jspenguin » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:04 am UTC

It's so simple! You don't have to be the smartest person in [subject hometown here] to figure it out.

Code: Select all

from __future__ import skynet

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Re: "Physicists" Discussion (#793)

Postby Alphaniner » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:05 am UTC

Randall, you magnificent bastard, you've done it again.

I have spent the last few days making fun of whatever my friend happens to be studying at the time, claiming the vast superiority of physics.

I liked this a LOT.

edit: stay out of my head

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Re: "Physicists" Discussion (#793)

Postby Eternal Density » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:11 am UTC

What about Randall Munroe encountering a new subject?
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Re: "Physicists" Discussion (#793)

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:13 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:What about Randall Munroe encountering a new subject?

First, the oral sex!

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby correnos » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:13 am UTC

jspenguin wrote:It's so simple! You don't have to be the smartest person in [subject hometown here] to figure it out.

But at least once the science is done they'll get a neat gun. The ones that are still alive, at least...
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Re: "Physicists" Discussion (#793)

Postby Ghandi 2 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:15 am UTC

What the hell, has Randall learned some humility?

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Re: "Physicists" Discussion (#793)

Postby RogueCynic » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:16 am UTC

Needs work.
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Re: "Physicists" Discussion (#793)

Postby beergeek » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:19 am UTC

[moved to the 11 PM thread]
Last edited by beergeek on Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:39 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Physicists" Discussion (#793)

Postby Ronfar » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:21 am UTC

If the non-physicist wants to take revenge, all he has to do is mention turbulence. ;)
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby picnic_crossfire » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:29 am UTC

explanation pls
picnic time!

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Uninfinity » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:30 am UTC

I wonder how he can curl his arm-nub like that...

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby beergeek » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:39 am UTC

I'm making my first post just to say, as a physics major, maybe this isn't EXPLICITLY how I react to new information...but yeah, guilty as charged. I definitely tout the superiority of physics*, and I definitely think most of those other "fake" topics (like sociology!) make things complicated just to confuse people.

In other words, GET OUT OF MY HEAD RANDALL!


*I'll usually acknowledge computer science and/or math and/or chemistry as not being BS, while dissing bio all the way.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Ghandi 2 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:46 am UTC

beergeek wrote:I'm making my first post just to say, as a physics major, maybe this isn't EXPLICITLY how I react to new information...but yeah, guilty as charged. I definitely tout the superiority of physics*, and I definitely think most of those other "fake" topics (like sociology!) make things complicated just to confuse people.

*I'll usually acknowledge computer science and/or math and/or chemistry as not being BS, while dissing bio all the way.

Wow, you are an asshole.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby caje » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:52 am UTC

beergeek wrote:*I'll usually acknowledge computer science and/or math and/or chemistry as not being BS, while dissing bio all the way.


Yup, penicillin IS BS :wink:

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby juggernaat » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:54 am UTC

Engineers do this too. :D

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Editer » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:03 am UTC

beergeek wrote:I'm making my first post just to say, as a physics major, maybe this isn't EXPLICITLY how I react to new information...but yeah, guilty as charged. I definitely tout the superiority of physics*, and I definitely think most of those other "fake" topics (like sociology!) make things complicated just to confuse people.


Image
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby KyleOwens » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:03 am UTC

Biology is BS right up until the point that the trillions of nanomachines that make up your body become self aware and go skynet on your ass. Followed by whatever is connected to your ass bone.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Economica » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:05 am UTC

This comic would have been (1) funnier and (2) truer if he'd used 'economists' instead of 'physicists'.

I mean, really, have you seen an economist at the ASSA meetings? There's a reason they don't let us go near the sociology panels...

There's even a term for it -- 'economic imperialism' -- to describe how Becker, Levitt, et al basically took over the fields of demography, political science and sociology.
Last edited by Economica on Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:07 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Minchandre » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:07 am UTC

Gah, so true, except replace "first encounters" with "ever encounters". My favorite was a physicist telling me that he didn't understand why we had 6 Circuits courses, he learned it all in one semester. Presented with a typical problem in the last course in that sequence ("Design a circuit that can filter, and then digitize a 2.4GHz signal"), he said that it sounded pretty straightforward; I mean, he knew all the fundamentals, right?

That's not to say that physicists are in general conceited...just about other fields of science.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Moose Hole » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:07 am UTC

You're trying to predict the behavior of xkcd? Just model it as a rectangle, and thn add some secondary terms to account for superiority. Easy, right? So, why does xkcd need a whole website, anyway?

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby HighwoodFool » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:08 am UTC

beergeek wrote:I'm making my first post just to say, as a physics major, maybe this isn't EXPLICITLY how I react to new information...but yeah, guilty as charged. I definitely tout the superiority of physics*, and I definitely think most of those other "fake" topics (like sociology!) make things complicated just to confuse people.

In other words, GET OUT OF MY HEAD RANDALL!


*I'll usually acknowledge computer science and/or math and/or chemistry as not being BS, while dissing bio all the way.


Hey, biology and sociology are legitimate sciences, using on empirical evidence and critical reasoning to discern and explain the mechanics of the world. Economics, on the other hand...
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Glaug-Eldare » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:12 am UTC

Is this serously Randall's idea of an apology? Acknowledging that sometimes the intellectual nobility have difficulty adapting to the ways of the feeble-minded peasants who don't study the Hard Science of selling t-shirts with stick figures on them? If Randall's "in your head" on this one, I hope I never meet you.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Elhehir » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:13 am UTC

HighwoodFool wrote:
beergeek wrote:I'm making my first post just to say, as a physics major, maybe this isn't EXPLICITLY how I react to new information...but yeah, guilty as charged. I definitely tout the superiority of physics*, and I definitely think most of those other "fake" topics (like sociology!) make things complicated just to confuse people.

In other words, GET OUT OF MY HEAD RANDALL!


*I'll usually acknowledge computer science and/or math and/or chemistry as not being BS, while dissing bio all the way.


Hey, biology and sociology are legitimate sciences, using on empirical evidence and critical reasoning to discern and explain the mechanics of the world. Economics, on the other hand...


Chemistry ? CHEMISTRY?!

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby jwwells » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:32 am UTC

beergeek: My mentor was an ex-physicist biologist. Some physicists do make good biologists. Many are awful at it.

Physicists who do bad biology say, "It's so simple! Look, model it so." These do not understand the concept of 'unknown unknowns.' What if, for example, your insects normally behave predictably, but release an alarm pheromone when handled clumsily - for example, by a theoretical physicist?

Physicists who do good biology say, "It's so messy! Is there any way we can control for as much of that messiness as possible? How do we pry apart this noise to get at the underlying rules?" They bring their disdain for vague claims to the field, and back up their claims with data. They aren't airy anti-biologists, but intense, experiment-driven pragmatists.

Of course, a person who thinks that the ability to mentally calculate path integrals is the mark of a Real Scientist is probably not going to care if their ideas stand up to experiment. If your model fails, that just proves that biologists are bad experimenters, am I right?

Biologists can do this, too, as can anyone. Ask a sufficiently arrogant person about a field they are disdainful of, and you'll be exposed to a kaleidoscope of willful ignorance - a full-spectrum light show of blazing fail.
Last edited by jwwells on Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:19 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby The Origamist » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:43 am UTC

As a physics major, I can say this is exactly how I react toward most subjects I have not studied extensively. I mean, everything seems so simple if you gloss over all the details and terminology. Of course, it is said details and terminology that form the majority of what the subject actually covers...
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Kaijyuu » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:47 am UTC

<insert rant on economics being a bogus or at least heavily flawed field here>
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby imantodes » Wed Sep 15, 2010 5:56 am UTC

As a related anecdote, a friend of mine just ended the horrific experience of being a PhD student of a former physicist who took up ecology. Guess what? The conceptual tools required to be a physicist do not make one: 1) competent at other sciences, or at statistics; 2) competent at interpersonal interaction.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby jwwells » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:17 am UTC

As a physics major, I can say this is exactly how I react toward most subjects I have not studied extensively. I mean, everything seems so simple if you gloss over all the details and terminology. Of course, it is said details and terminology that form the majority of what the subject actually covers...


Clever people can extract the simple essence of a complicated problem. Stupid clever people mistake a simplification for a solution. I think you're in the first group, not the second.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby RockoTDF » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:52 am UTC

Editer wrote:
beergeek wrote:I'm making my first post just to say, as a physics major, maybe this isn't EXPLICITLY how I react to new information...but yeah, guilty as charged. I definitely tout the superiority of physics*, and I definitely think most of those other "fake" topics (like sociology!) make things complicated just to confuse people.


Image


My issue with this comic is that it is a totally improper use of the word "applied." Further, there are areas of different fields that aren't as pure as you would think. For example, zoology (branch of biology) is arguably less rigorous than say, cognitive neuroscience (branch between psychology and neuroscience that would be "less" pure on this scale) because it can often involve observational research as opposed to actual experiments.

Further, one could argue that certain areas of theoretical physics that cannot be tested aren't actually science!
Just because it is not physics doesn't mean it is not science.
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Cal Engime » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:54 am UTC

HighwoodFool wrote:
beergeek wrote:I'm making my first post just to say, as a physics major, maybe this isn't EXPLICITLY how I react to new information...but yeah, guilty as charged. I definitely tout the superiority of physics*, and I definitely think most of those other "fake" topics (like sociology!) make things complicated just to confuse people.

In other words, GET OUT OF MY HEAD RANDALL!


*I'll usually acknowledge computer science and/or math and/or chemistry as not being BS, while dissing bio all the way.
Hey, biology and sociology are legitimate sciences, using on empirical evidence and critical reasoning to discern and explain the mechanics of the world. Economics, on the other hand...
The problem with economics is that economists try to apply empirical methods from the natural sciences to the study of agents with free will acting under ever-changing conditions which cannot be subjected to experiment.

Historical experience can be useful in guiding our thoughts, but the legitimate source of economic theory is a priori reasoning, and such theory can be neither verified nor disproved by experiment.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby panonymous » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:17 am UTC

Of course the reasons physicists think that way is that nearly all of physics involves making simplifying assumptions to be able to tackle a problem. When you get exposed to various levels of granularity of physical modelling (thermodynamics vs. stat mech; newtonian mechanics vs. quantum or relativistic; continuum mechanics) you get a feel for the importance of knowing when those assumptions break down (non-laminar fluid flow). Economists make at least as many simplifying assumptions but (and this seems to be particularly true for Chicago school economists) quickly forget what those assumptions are (or don't even realize all their assumptions) and under what conditions they might no longer operate. Macroeconomic theory in particular, is a largely empirically refined theory which depends on a socio-economic stability for which the failure conditions are poorly understood (although starving populations waving torches and pitchforks is a good sign you're well past that point).

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby JustShyofGenius » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:26 am UTC

This comic makes me think I'm meant to be a physicist.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby e1000 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:39 am UTC

This thread is now an ad-libs thread


You're trying to predict the behavior of dogs? Just model it as a snake, Then add secondary terms to account for legs and it's homothermisity.
Why does mammalogy need a journal anyways?

You're trying to predict the behavior of a metaloprotein ligand? Just model it as a mononuclear metal, Then add secondary terms to account for intermolecular forces and steric effects.
Why does biochemistryneed a journal anyways?

You're trying to predict the behavior of a nonideal gas? Just model it as an ideal gas, Then add secondary terms to account for molecular volume and intermolecular attraction
Why does physical chemistryneed a journal anyways?

Ironically the last one is EXACTLY how they deal with nonideal gases.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby Misnomer » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:45 am UTC

One of the advantages of being a history student is that your work is generally safe from such attacks from physicists. Not that they don't try...

"Huh? No, I don't need to read your thesis, I can imagine roughly what it says."
Brilliant :lol:
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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby _W_ » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:54 am UTC

beergeek wrote:I'm making my first post just to say, as a physics major, maybe this isn't EXPLICITLY how I react to new information...but yeah, guilty as charged. I definitely tout the superiority of physics*, and I definitely think most of those other "fake" topics (like sociology!) make things complicated just to confuse people.

In other words, GET OUT OF MY HEAD RANDALL!


*I'll usually acknowledge computer science and/or math and/or chemistry as not being BS, while dissing bio all the way.

I used to think this way about biology, making silly statements indicating our chemistry knowledge and computing power being close to good enough to just model biology from the bottom up. Then someone told me about proteins.

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Re: "Physicists" discussion (#793)

Postby philippos42 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:56 am UTC

Cal Engime wrote:The problem with economics is that economists try to apply empirical methods from the natural sciences to the study of agents with free will acting under ever-changing conditions which cannot be subjected to experiment.

Historical experience can be useful in guiding our thoughts, but the legitimate source of economic theory is a priori reasoning, and such theory can be neither verified nor disproved by experiment.
Oh look, it's an "Austrian"! So you want to use a priori arguments, relying on dubious assumptions about universal psychology, to predict the behavior of "agents with free will acting under ever-changing conditions"--and you consider this more legitimate, more useful, & less unreliable than repeated empirical observation & extensive historical analysis.

Yeah, a priori, you're wrong. If the "Austrian" belief that history is an unreliable guide were true, there would be no use to macro-economics at all. But then, considering "Austrians'" propensity for misapplying micro-economics to macro problems, I suppose that's what they think.


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