APS News

The Physicists' Bill of Rights

Author Unknown

We hold these postulates to be intuitively obvious, that all physicists are born equal, to a first approximation, and are endowed by their creator with certain discrete privileges, among them a mean rest life, n degrees of freedom, and the following rights, which are invariant under all linear transformations:

I. To approximate all problems to ideal cases.

II. To use order of magnitude calculations whenever deemed necessary (i.e., whenever one can get away with it).

III. To use the rigorous method of "squinting" for solving problems more complex than the additions of positive real integers.

IV. To dismiss all functions which diverge as "nasty" and "unphysical".

V. To invoke the uncertainty principle whenever confronted by confused mathematicians, chemists, engineers, psychologists, dramatists, and andere schweinhund.

VI. To the extensive use of "bastard notations" where conventional mathematics will not work.

VII. To justify shaky reasoning on the basis that it gives the right answer.

VIII. To cleverly choose convenient initial conditions, using the principle of general triviality.

IX. To use plausible arguments in place of proofs, and thenceforth refer to those arguments as proofs.

X. To take on faith any principle which seems right but cannot be proved.


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