Kinda Physicy and completely unrelated to Guyana by meeks
October 23, 2009, 4:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

**An aside, more things about what I am actually doing here are to come; things like a descriptions of mabaruma, lifestyle, and accounts of my students. I have largely left those to rest because I do not want to make too many snap judgments that could in the long run be damaging. So, I have thus far held off on writing about the more basic things that for the most part make up my life.**

I took a course at Carleton College called Electricity and Magnetism. We learned about Maxwell’s Equations, which dealt with the equivalence of electricity and magnetism (reference frame dependent), and the reference frame independence of the speed of light (thus proving a theoretical backing for special relativity three decades before its discovery), amongst other things. I also participated in practicals building elementary electrical circuits from batteries, wires, resistors, and mini-bulbs. The practicals usually were as seamless as the equations, save for a faulty wire, or finicky oscilloscope here and there. But even then, the worst would be a dead circuit.

Flash forward to yesterday. The new bulb in my bedroom was being stubborn, not lighting with the switch up or down. Having a bachelors of arts in physics, I deemed myself qualified to jump in and meddle about hoping to circuitously arrive at a solution in much the same manner I approached an E and M circuit in class. The problem being in the real world there are sometimes lasting consequences for wrong answers.*

I jiggled the bulb back and forth in the socket first to try tightening then loosening, and voila…light! Satisfied with my ingenuity, I turn, averting my gaze from the unsheathed bright light. Then all at once a thunderous, yet hollow pop sounds, out goes light, and onto my neck I feel the surprisingly soft tickling of glass shards

Exploding bulbs? I thought they were demi-legends occupying the same space as opera singers who can sing windows to pieces. That never happened in lab. I can better understand why the amateur electrician is a rare breed indeed.

*In academia, spectacularly wrong answers are often valued, sometimes even celebrated. As per example, the case of the gigantic underground water tank built in South Dakota to detect proton decay. As we know now, protons do not decay. The experiment was able to substantiate that fact to the ridiculous lifetime of around 1030 years by noting that nothing happened for 20 years. The facility was also later able to be converted into an important neutrino detection lab. So scientists dug a gigantic hole filled it with water built to detect something that does not happen and it was somehow not only a success but a success on two counts.


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