Archive for October 13th, 2008

So I’m attending a workshop at the Clay Institute right now. After having to wake up yesterday at 3 am to catch a flight and the usual “I’m too tired to be able to get anything done”, I thought I would post something light. If I’m in a really good mood I might even consider blogging about the workshop, but don’t count on it.

I thought it would be nice to tell you that in physics we don’t just make oversimplified models of cows, like a spherical cow. We also sometimes do more complicated models as well, and hope to say something useful with them. It’s just that it doesn’t always work the way one wants to and one has to learn that models are only good insofar as they actually help you in solving a problem.

A spherical cow eating square grass

A spherical cow eating square grass.

Here to my left is a cow eating grass. Notice that this is a more sophisticated cow than “just a spherical cow” because this one is doing something more than just rolling in the ground.








A spherical rat: a bad model of physics.

Sometimes our models are not really robust like cows, but they have the personality of a rat: if you look at them too much they run and disappear. But before that, they might bite you. They can also eat your good ideas and leave a lot of holes in them. When one invents a model, one has to look at it carefully to see if it is a rat or not. If one finds oneself trapped with one of these, there is only one thing one can do.







it eats spherical rats, hence its shape.

A spherical cat: eats spherical rats for breakfast

One has to call for a spherical cat. These are the models that eat other bad models for breakfast. They are spherical because of their over-indulgence in eating other models. These are the guys that show that spherical rats are what they are, and after playing with the rat for a while, they kill it without mercy. 

Spherical cats also show up in quantum mechanics. They were a favorite pet of Schrodinger


And if your pet cat looks like this, put it on a diet. The vet can help you with that.

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