Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pratchett's notes on physics

I'm currently reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld. The mere fact that I hadn't done so in 25 years is an unforgivable character flaw. Anyway, aside from all other objects of his sarcasm, he seems to have a special warm place in his heart for advanced physics... So, here are a couple quotes from the books I've already read, to share the wisdom.

"While I'm still confused and uncertain, it's on a much higher plane, d'you see, and at least I know I'm bewildered about the really fundamental and important facts of the universe." Treatle nodded. "I hadn't looked at it like that," he said, "But you're absolutely right. He's really pushed back the boundaries of ignorance." They both savoured the strange warm glow of being much more ignorant than ordinary people, who were only ignorant of ordinary things.

[Terry Pratchett - Equal Rites]

The only thing known to go faster than ordinary light is monarchy, according to the philosopher Ly Tin Weedle. He reasoned like this: you can't have more than one king, and tradition demands that there is no gap between kings, so when a king dies the succession must therefore pass to the heir instantaneously. Presumably, he said, there must be some elementary particles -- kingons, or possibly queons -- that do this job, but of course succession sometimes fails if, in mid-flight, they strike an anti-particle, or republicon. His ambitious plans to use his discovery to send messages, involving the careful torturing of a small king in order to modulate the signal, were never fully expanded because, at that point, the bar closed.

[Terry Pratchett - Mort]

1 comment:

Carol Gama said...

Hey, news from Seattle!!!
How are you?
I liked the first (Equal Rites).