Scott Adams' Crackpot Theory & the SETI Setup
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 99 21:12:13 -0700
Subject: Scott Adams' Crackpot Theory & the SETI Setup
X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649 -=[ Fun_People ]=-
Excerpted-from: Dilbert Newsletter 26.0
From: Scott Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As you know, after Dogbert conquers the planet, the people who subscribe to
the Dilbert Newsletter will become Dogbert's New Ruling Class. Those who
are not in the DNRC (the Induhviduals) will be our domestic servants. When
that day comes, DNRC members can pick their own professions. I plan to
become a crackpot.
Crackpot is an excellent job because the expectations are so low. No one
ever tells crackpots that they should be doing more.
My particular field of crackpot expertise will be physics. I think it will
be easy to blend in with the real physicists. In physics, lots of accepted
theories make no sense and no one seems to care. Luckily I have unkempt
hair and I wear glasses. Add those qualities to my complete lack of social
skills and I'm practically a scientist already.
Did you know that if you got in a rocket ship and raced a beam of light,
the light would always be faster than you by exactly the speed of light, no
matter how fast you went? It sounds like a crackpot idea but it's
Einstein's theory. Most scientists agree that Einstein is right even though
it makes no sense.
Einstein also figured out that time is slower for things that move fast.
In my ongoing quest to win the Nobel Prize without doing anything hard, I
have developed a crackpot theory for why fast-moving things have slower
Imagine an object moving between two points. The normal view is that the
object occupies each and every position on its path until it reaches its
destination. But the number of possible positions between any two points
is infinite. Does it make sense that an object could occupy infinite
positions in space in a finite period of time?
Let's say no, or else my crackpot theory falls apart.
Under my crackpot theory, objects actually disappear and then reappear along
their path. They only seem to move because it happens so quickly. Slow
objects pop into existence slightly ahead of their last position. Fast
objects pop into existence far ahead of where they were last; that's what
makes them seem fast. So for any given distance, the fast-moving objects
pop into existence fewer times along the path, like a long-legged runner
who needs fewer strides.
A fast-traveling clock, for example, would have less time in existence to
tick. If you could see it whizzing past you, it would appear slow.
Obviously all of this popping in and out of existence would have to be
happening so fast we can't notice or measure it.
It might seem impossible that objects pop in and out of existence. But
physicists know that's exactly what happens in the super-tiny quantum world.
Matter jumps in and out of existence continually. Although large objects
don't play by the same rules as the quantum world, the squirrelliness of
the tiny world makes you question what you really know about anything.
As with most of my theories, this one doesn't hold up to close scrutiny,
but it's surprisingly resilient to casual criticism. Take your best shot.
I won't be able to respond to all your e-mail telling me why my theory is
wrong, but I'll read them all.
Pranks On Induhviduals
Here's the best DNRC prank ever.
A co-worker of mine has SETI@home running on his computer. This is software,
distributed by SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), that will
run on PCs as a screen saver and analyze chunks of data from a radio
telescope looking for non-naturally occurring signals from outer space. The
other day I copied the SETI analysis screen to Microsoft Paint and then
edited it to contain a large alert message stating that ET signals had been
discovered. I also drew in a button that he could use to "Notify SETI
Immediately." I left this image on his screen with a "red alert" sound
running in the background.
When he returned to his desk he was ecstatic to see that he had found ET
life. He called another co-worker over to witness the historic moment. Then
he clicked the button and discovered what I'd done.
He's now looking for an opportunity to slay me so this may be my last
message to ...
© 1999 Peter Langston