Physics Can Kill You

Physics can, and very likely will, kill you. But that’s no reason to take it personally. Physics, after all, is why one freezes to death, suffers heat stroke, or is killed by a fall, or an automobile crash. It’s usually why you lost control of the car or fell in the first place. It may even be how you found yourself in the cold or heat for longer than you should have been, But taking it personally just makes it harder to evaluate the situation objectively and prepare adequately,

If you don’t speed or text while driving you are much less likely to lose control. If you hydrate and take regular breaks in the shade, you aren’t as prone to heat stroke. Don’t get lost. This is all advice that is easier to take if you are not under the impression the universe is out to get you in particular. E=mc^2 is independent of you or I. It’s not proof that God is out to get you. Or even to get us all.

But knowing it, and knowing it early or well, can determine which culture triumphs over the other, so we do not want to be late or lax. But I suppose we could just stop bombing one another.  There’s little joy in that, though, and no money to be made.

Besides, most effects of physics are not so momentous, and certainly not so hard to  encounter as Einstein’s famous equation–but they may be more personal.

Take snow in the driveway, for instance. Knowing the basic physics of snow can serve well in helping you deal with it. I realize I’m using the term physics loosely here. But who uses it correctly? Anyway, snow will not run off like rain, for example. It settles with time and becomes heavy and hard. It absorbs water and will freeze solid if so infused when the temperature falls enough. It is always more difficult to put where you want it later than shortly after it has fallen. Always move it as soon after it has fallen as practical, even if that means you wind up shoveling or snow blowing more than once.

By the way, not everyone needs a snow blower. Shoveling is very good exercise and some snow actually prefers the shovel to the blower. Very wet snow comes to mind. If you rarely get another kind, you probably don’t want to spend the money. Good maintenance is a side obligation of snow blower ownership which should also be weighed. A snow blower that doesn’t run is a real drag. It almost always breaks down far from an outlet and you wind up trying to pull-start it many times before giving up and dragging it up the driveway, which is not easy.

But if you’re convinced God is out to get you anyway, why bother to tune the damn thing when the weather is nice? It just costs money and takes time and energy. Besides, God is out to get you no matter what you do, What’s the point?

Speaking of that, what’s the point of this little diatribe?

No point, I guess. What’s the point of worrying about snow handling when the sky is clear and the temperature warm? Why be wrapped up in what might never come?

Why, for instance, do I worry so much about sea-level rise? Probably because I think it will come. Having viewed myself as a scientist, even if only peripherally, all my life, I believe in their warnings re climate change. Having also watched politics all my life, I have far less belief that political deniers deserve my ear at all. Wishful thinking is far more likely to infect their thinking than it is to affect the scientific community.

I think knowing the physics of sea rise is our only chance of dealing with it. People cannot stay in their  homes when the homes are under water. Those who live in land subject to flooding will, therefor, become  refugees. Those who own guns will almost certainly take them with them when they vacate their homes. I certainly would.

Are you prepared to deal with hundreds of thousands of armed refugees? I certainly am not. In fact, my being prepared would be virtually useless in the face of the hundreds of thousands. That is why I write so much about it: we have to be united in our thinking about how to deal with this. The first step is to stop denying the obvious, and let’s defer to science what is obvious and what is not.

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One Response to Physics Can Kill You

  1. Hank Raymond says:

    I definitely need a good working snowblower. A shovel won’t cut it.

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