o The Frog Blog: On the Nature of Physics

Thursday, 16 October 2008

On the Nature of Physics

A physicist, an engineer, and a psychologist are called in as consultants to a dairy farm whose production has been below par. Each is given time to inspect the details of the operation before making a report.

The first to be called is the engineer who states: ‘The size of the stalls for the cattle should be decreased. Efficiency could be improved if the cows were more closely packed, with a net allotment of 275 cubic feet per cow. Also the diameter of the milking tubes should be increased by 4 per cent to allow for greater average flow rate during the milking periods.’

The next to report is the psychologist who proposes: ‘The inside of the barn should be painted green. This is a more mellow colour than brown and should help induce greater milk flow. Also, more trees should be planted in the fields to add diversity to the scenery for the cattle during grazing, to reduce boredom.’

Finally the physicist is called upon, who asks for a blackboard and draws a circle. ‘Assume the cow is a sphere . . .’

(Lawrence M. Krauss 1994, Fear of Physics p. 3)

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