APS News

March 2000 (Volume 9, Number 3)

Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science

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:

  1. To approximate all problems to ideal cases.
  2. To use order of magnitude calculations whenever deemed necessary (i.e. whenever one can get away with it).
  3. To use the rigorous method of "squinting" for solving problems more complex than the addition of positive real integers.
  4. To dismiss all functions which diverge as "nasty" and "unphysical."
  5. To invoke the uncertainty principle when confronted by confused mathematicians, chemists, engineers, psychologists, dramatists, und andere schweinhund.
  6. When pressed by non-physicists for an explanation of (4) to mumble in a sneering tone of voice something about physically naive mathematicians.
  7. To equate two sides of an equation which are dimensionally inconsistent, with a suitable comment to the effect of, "Well, we are interested in the order of magnitude anyway."
  8. To invent fictitious forces to delude the general public.
  9. To justify shaky reasoning on the basis that it gives the right answer.
  10. To cleverly choose convenient initial conditions, using the principle of general triviality.
  11. To use plausible arguments in place of proofs, and thenceforth refer to these arguments as proofs.
  12. To take on faith any principle which seems right but cannot be proved.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette

March 2000 (Volume 9, Number 3)

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Articles in this Issue
APS Gears Up for Minneapolis March Meeting Madness
High School Physics Teachers in Short Supply
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
Nanotechnology Symposium at March Meeting
The Back Page
My Opinion-Others May Differ
Outreach and Community Service II
This Month in Physics History
Scientists Must Speak Out
That Voodoo That You Do
Microfluidic Technologies on the Rise at DFD Meeting
First Online Graduate Physics Textbook Hits the Web
Wilson Memorial Tribute Planned