Thursday, March 31, 2011

12 Year Old Physics Wonder Kid -- NOT!!!

As a scientist (specifically a Physicist), nothing bugs me quite so much as Pseudoscience. In many ways, it is literally the bane of society's existence and one of the reasons people find it so hard to understand real science. So, imagine my horror when I found the viral video of this "wonder kid" who is supposedly going to take on Einstein and change the world's understanding of Relativity. Yeah, right. Give me a break. Watch the video and scroll down for my comments as to why this brat doesn't know what he is talking about.

A few points.

1. There is no "forwards", "backwards", and "sideways" in the universe. Think about it: you're sitting out in the middle of a vacuum, no stars around you. Which way is up? Which way is down? Thus, when the little brat says "light doesn't accelerate forwards or backwards but exactly to the side", it is a statement that doesn't have any meaning. Light DOESN'T accelerate. As far as all experimental evidence I have ever seen has said, photons are created instantaneously traveling at c. If light accelerated, physicist would be able to (routinely) measure light in a vacuum at speeds far below c. This doesn't happen, at least as far as I am aware. If someone has a paper showing this, please send me the citation.

*Btw, just to clarify, light can travel slower inside of a non-vacuum, say in water. The photons of the light still travel at c, but they are being continuously absorbed and recreated by the electrons in the medium, making the effective propagation velocity of the light less than c.

2. Tachyons and massive photons have never been shown to exist, ever, at least that I am aware. If this kid has evidence of their existence, he needs to publish in a journal and claim his Nobel Prize. So, when the brat mumbles something towards the end of the clip about "Tachyons and massive photons exist . . .", he is just talking out of his ass.

3. I am not sure where this kid is getting a figure of a speed of light existing, perhaps in another universe," that is "0.9 faster than the speed of light in our universe", or whatever he said. This is a figure that, in my opinion, the kid has once again pulled from his ass. Why not 0.8? 0.7? 0.4? 3.141925? times faster/slower than our universe? Why did you choose 0.9, other than you were trying to look smart for the cameras?

If this kid wants to show off for his mom's ignorant friends at dinner parties, fine. Let him. But,please, don't stick this idiot on Youtube. It's bad for the legitimate scientists of the world.
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  1. Are you a researcher at Perdue like this kid. No, and light can slow down, this is a measured fact. This is not pseudoscience, which encompasses things like bigfoot. Stfu, and read a little more before you judge a kid from his mothers youtube video.

  2. Actually, I am a researcher at a Tier 1 University (I don't say which out of privacy concerns) and I am currently ABD for a PhD in Physics. To date, I have been taking Physics and math classes approximately the same length of time this kid has been alive.

    You can slow down the wave velocity of light, as you say, though not in a vacuum. This effect, however, has to do with electrons in the medium constantly absorbing and emitting the photons as they pass through the medium and involves a bit of physics much to complex to address in a casual posting. However, you cannot slow down the photons themselves; they always travel at c.

    I stand by my assertions made in the article. You sir are the one who should perhaps stfu next time before you say I don't know what I'm talking about.

  3. Apparently I should have clarified in the post that what I meant by light not accelerating is that photons don't accelerate, or at least they've never been observed to accelerate.



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