“It Is Just BEAUTIFUL Physics”

The last time I laughed that hard, I was watching a Marx Brothers movie.

“A Night With The Stars” (BBC 2) truly meant a night with the stars. But the celebrity kind, rather than the celestial. Professor Brian Cox invited members of the celebrity world to watch, and even participate in, a lecture at The Royal Institute, London. Oh, and it was going to be about Quantum Physics. The deeper meaning of Quantum Physics.

With volunteers like Sarah Millican, James May, Jim Al Khalili, Simon Pegg and others, you could already tell that this was going to be a night of pure entertainment, with a hint of scientific knowledge. From the Double Slit Experiment to the Pauli Exclusion. Task ranging from sand pouring to some, less than complex mathematics. Poor Jonathan Ross… trying to divide numbers with powers of 10. Luckily Jim Al Khalili was on hand to give him some helpful advice, seeing as Brian thought it would be funny to abandon the poor man!

But the most definitive achievement of the night, was the waving up and down of a very long spring by Simon Pegg and Jim Al Khalili. They got as far as 6 nodes on a standing wave, and that’s tough.
Then again, James May having all his hair blown back and with a sooty face may have been an exciting result of his experiment. Sadly, Mr May did not turn into a mad scientist.

Being a Physicist myself (though technically, me being an Astrophysicist is even better) made this all the more entertaining. Not because I enjoyed watching someone squirm with maths I did in my head in seconds, but because the victims, no sorry…. volunteers know how to
be funny. Their way of turning their utter confusion into comedy made it entertaining not only for me, but for the live audience and the audience sitting at home. And I bet that it made the physics behind it be absorbed into the minds of the viewers. Who knows, someday Sarah Millican might achieve a PhD in Quantum Physics.

And I don’t think I have ever heard it said better than Professor Brian Cox’s last line, “It is just beautiful Physics”.

[All Photos Copyright of the BBC]

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Posted on December 18, 2011, in Astronomy, Particle Physics, Physics, Quantum Physics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’m sure that sitting next to you on the train made Sarah Millican very intelligent. Or you very funny.
    Or both.

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