E ≠ MC²


Holy hyperdrive, Batman: Faster-Than-Light Particles Question Einstein’s Theory

One would hope the CERN researchers have thoroughly vetted their results and analyzed them eight ways from Sunday before making it public. Gizmodo also reports on this while not sounding entirely convinced at the same time. The comments probably add more to this debate than I could, in any event. Interestingly, blogger/scientist L.Riofrio has been advocating a light-is-slowing-down theory for some time so one must wonder how this figures into it.

A few years ago, I went back to school to learn all the Calculus that I should’ve studied as an undergrad. But that’s what happens when an English major Forrest-Gumps his way into an Engineering job.

Boy, what a difference 20 years made. What once would’ve sent me screaming into the night was now fascinating. I drank it in. Anyone not majoring in one of the hard sciences or an engineering discipline should at least take Calc 1 and 2. And take it with an open mind, not as some medieval torture that you must endure.

Why? Carl Sagan once said something along these lines: “We have constructed a society that is almost entirely dependent on science and technology, yet have structured our education system so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a recipe for disaster.” While I had serious disagreements with much of his social thinking and general disparagement of religion, this is absolutely correct.

Because Calculus is nature’s Rosetta Stone. It’s the universal language of science and engineering. It’s the method we use to describe and predict the world around us. It’s how we quantify things that are dynamic, constantly changing. Once I began to understand it, the power of Calculus blew my mind. And I developed a much greater appreciation for Sir Isaac Newton. Building upon the work of others (because that’s how it goes), he pretty much invented Calculus in his early twenties while on an extended break from college (“University”, in the Queen’s English). They were closed for an outbreak of Tuberculosis or some other devastating 17th century disease.

And he did it without slide rules or a whiz-bang TI84 Silver Edition calculator.

I also developed a much greater appreciation for God. And let me tell you, it can be a struggle to remain grounded in your Faith while pursuing Science at the same time. The latter frequently challenges our notions of the former. It shouldn’t. Unfortunately, too many with scientific education use that as a convenient excuse for Atheism.

In my case, learning Calc was different. To a much greater degree than Trig or Algebra, it gives us tools to understand nature from the smallest subatomic particle to the farthest galaxy. From modeling the behavior of viruses to figuring out how to measure blood pressure.

More importantly, it’s a tool we can use to mathematically predict things which is the key to scientific discovery. It took centuries for man to figure out the language of nature. God’s rules of the road. And we’re still refining it, four hundred years after Newton first figured it out for himself. But God snaps His fingers, and it just is. Left there hanging, taunting us to try and catch up.

One example: our class once dug into E=MC² as an exercise. It didn’t take long to see that as values of E (energy) got closer to C (speed of light), the value of M (mass) started heading for infinity. Which mass can’t do, despite what my bathroom scale has been telling me for the past several years.

And that’s my layman’s view of why this could really shake up physics. If CERN is correct, it is a Very Big Deal that shows how much we still have to learn.

God is Infinite. Men are puny.

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