APS News

October 2007 (Volume 16, Number 9)

Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science

Warnings Accompanying Your Inflatable Universe

By Justin Kahn

Congratulations on your receipt of an Inflatable Universe. While we can’t tell you where it came from, we can tell you with a certain amount of confidence that it will be around for some time.


Inflatable Universe is a fun and educational tool for you and your children. Please be aware that the following precautions should be observed.

Allow adequate space for setting up the Inflatable Universe. Please be aware that the universe will continue to expand, even after you have finished inflating. Also, be aware that if you do not inflate the universe at all, it will inflate itself. Know that while the Inflatable Universe is not to scale, it eventually will be to scale at a ratio of one to one.

Included with your Inflatable Universe is a set of clocks. They are not synchronized. Do Not Try To Synchronize Them.

Your Inflatable Universe, even as you read this, is moving towards a state of total decay. Our lawyers assure us that this is a law, and nothing can be done about it.

Actual Star Dust is highly flammable. Do not sprinkle it on your loved ones. If you get Star Dust in your eyes, you must take immediate action. Forcibly hold your eyelids open while flushing out with water. You must rotate your eyeball so that the whole surface is exposed to the water stream. You will look ridiculous.

Regarding the Miniature Box. Your set contains a scaled-down version of the box which the universe comes in. For the sake of authenticity we must include it. However, you should not place this box in your universe. Think about what happens: in a sense, the box which once contained the universe is actually now contained by the universe. This creates an actual paradox that threatens the whole of our reality. DO NOT RUIN EXISTENCE FOR THE REST OF US. Thanks.

The mysteries of the universe are many. Be careful with these. If you ignore them you may find yourself missing out on the deepest emotional and philosophical experiences known to humanity. On the other hand if you spend too much time thinking about these mysteries you could end up going nuts.

Do not get too close to the black holes. You will not survive.

Be patient with civilizations as they evolve.

Batteries are not included.

Justin Kahn is an adjunct instructor in philosophy at Notre Dame of Ohio. A slightly longer version of the above piece appeared in issue 16 of the Café Irreal.

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
Contributing Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff

October 2007 (Volume 16, Number 9)

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Articles in this Issue
Curtis Callan Elected next APS Vice-President
US Olympiad Team Brings Back Medals and Memories from Iran
Three APS Members Receive National Medal of Science
Physics Bachelor's Degrees Show 40% Gain in Six Years
APS Selects Bowen as New Congressional Fellow
New Research Raises Old Questions About Electromagnetic Fields
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
Focus on APS Topical Groups
Inside the Beltway: Primary Analysis
Feedback: Members Respond to Kadanoff
The Back Page
APS Web Writer Wins Award