Every January 1st, I join about 600 other “Polar Bears” (a.k.a. boneheads) and head to the Boulder Reservoir for our annual plunge (if you were wondering about the “a.k.a.” a moment ago, you probably understand it now).
If you don’t know how this works, here’s the deal:
The ice has been cut away from a section of the “rez” so you can jump into the 32-degree water. If you’re particularly brain damaged (me), you’ll swim around for a bit… until your bits retreat as far as possible and then go totally numb. Then you hobble your way out of the drink, and make your way to the nearby hot tubs, which are closer to warm and have more chlorine and human detritus in them than actual water molecules.
The next few hours are a fascinating experience as your body screams, “What did you just do to me?!” — getting hot on the outside and cold on the inside, then cold on the outside and hot on the inside, then every other combination of temperatures you can imagine. Sort of like what happens when you microwave a bowl of frozen chili — boiling in one part and still frozen in another.
Sometimes I’ll hit the steamroom as part of the post-polar process.
Now, there’s a reason I’m telling you all this, and it has nothing to do with convincing you to join me on the 1st (though I will tell you that everyone I’ve ever talked into becoming a Bear has come back to do it again).
My reason is to highlight that once a year you can experience the seemingly obvious phenomenon that ICE is not the same as cold WATER which is not the same as hot water which is not the same as STEAM.
Oh, sure, they’re all H2O, but they are not the same. Confuse them on January 1st and you’ll be be a headline: “Par-boiled frozen dead bear found floating in tepid tub.”
You can CONVERT ice to water to steam (and, of course, vice versa), because they are EQUIVALENT, but they are NOT the same. You wouldn’t make a margarita with steam, try to de-wrinkle your clothes with water, or lounge in a towel in a block of ice (and, what David Blaine did was a TRICK).
“Duh, Steven, we know that H2O takes different forms. What’s your point?”
Glad I-pretending-to-be-you asked.
Because I’m on a personal crusade to find everyone who claims, “Quantum Physics says that everything is energy!” and throw a Newtonian pie in their non-Quantum face.
QP does NOT say “everything is energy.”
Einstein’s equation, E=mc2 (wordpress won’t let me make the 2 a superscript), means that energy and matter are equivalent, that you can convert one to another, NOT that they are the same.
And while turning matter to energy makes a big boom, I’m not aware of anyone who has gone the other way. If they were equal, wouldn’t we be able to turn on our microwave and get popcorn without needing to put in a bag of Orville’s?
A million one dollar bills equals a million dollar bill… but I wouldn’t want to hope the 7/11 can break a mil for a late-night Slurpee.
Volcanoes spew out liquid earth, but I’m not investing in that lava-bottomed condo complex, thank you very much.
Electricity can convert to magnetism (and, again, vice versa), but I’m not replacing the compact fluorescents with refrigerator magnet powered illumination.
For whatever reason, I’ve reached my limit of people co-opting a misunderstanding of Quantum Physics as “proof” of some bit of New Age magical thinking.
On that note, while we’re at it, Quantum Physics also does NOT say:
- We’re all one
- We’re all connected
- The universe is conscious/aware
- Everything came from nothing (a singularity is not “nothing”)
- Thoughts are “energy” (and since “everything is energy, you can control the universe with your thoughts)
- An atom is 99.9% empty space (so, of course, we should be able to walk through walls)
And let me give a special shout out to, “The act of observing something CHANGES it.”
Quantum Physics thieves use this one to suggest that if you change your perspective you are, literally, changing the outside world. This is like saying if you put on red tinted glasses, everything really does become red! Holy massive pigmentation change, Batman!
What Quantum non-Physicists (and, amazingly some actual-physicists) use to support this idea is: Depending on how you observe an electron “it is either a particle or a wave.”
ACTUALLY, it’s like this: When you set up an experiment to see wave-like qualities, an electron exhibits wave-like qualities. And, when you set up an experiment to see particle-like qualities, an electron exhibits particle-like qualities.
If we could figure out an experiment to show the pizza-like qualities of an electron, no question that Dominos would be delivering pizzatrons in 30 nanoseconds or you get it free.
We have no idea what an electron REALLY is.
And, more, the idea that our observation CHANGES reality is suggesting that, somehow, we are separate from reality, some non-changing entity that’s independent of the rest of the universe. Hello?
For what I can only hope is the last time: Quantum Physics is one way of attempting to describe the sub-atomic world. And, look, even Quantum Physicists have knock-down, drag-out, pocket-protector-throwing fights about what QP “says”.
The day someone comes up with a better description than Quantum Physics (with predictions and experimental proof to support it), “An electron is a particle or a wave” will sound like “You have a cold because your phlegm humors are backed up and these leeches will un-block that.”
The way things work in the ittiest-bittiest world is not the way they work out here… using QP to describe the macro world is just a metaphor.
Later: When you raise fruit flies in a jar with a clear lid, and then take off the lid, how fast the flies LEAVE the jar.
Followed by: When you raise fish in a tank with a clear divider in the middle, and then remove the divider, how they instantly swim into the other half of the tank.
And then: How frogs jump out of water as it heats up, no matter how slowly you heat it.
Next: Why you CANNOT trap a monkey with a hollowed out coconut and some candy.
Last but not least, just because something is really tiny, or has to do with molecules or atoms does NOT make it “nanotechnology.” Discuss amongst yourselves.