When Physicists Attack: Homeless Man Attacks Fellow Transient in Disagreement Over Quantum Physics

180px-Albert_Einstein_1947This week a homeless man in California hit a fellow transient in the face with a skateboard over a disagreement about quantum physics. In San Francisco, Jason Everett Keller, 40, allegedly attacked, Stephan Fava, over a disputed physics question.

At the time of the attack, Fava was discussing quantum physics with a third homeless man.

I have been warning for years about the danger of “fighting words” in quantum physics discussions. I confess that I have come close to blows when I hear someone disparage Planck’s Action Constant in a bar.

For the Turley bloggers, here are a few pointers to avoid when you find yourself in a heated discussion with an amateur physicist. Likewise, one has to learn to control one’s temper when someone says “Hey, Buddy, I don’t care what the correspondence principle says, all objects do not have to obey the laws of quantum mechanics.”

In the interest of quantum peace, here are my top five favorite pick-up lines for physicists:

1. What’s your resonance frequency?

2. Your smile is warmer than hydrogen plasma.

3. I’m hung like a Foucault pendulum.

4. Heisenberg was wrong. I’m certain about what you’re doing tonight.

5. You make me want to be a better physicist.

For the story, click here.

44 thoughts on “When Physicists Attack: Homeless Man Attacks Fellow Transient in Disagreement Over Quantum Physics”

  1. Pardon me, I stand corrected. I went to double check myself and Einstein won “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”.

  2. Oh, and before I forget. Einstein won in 1921. For relativity.

  3. Umberto Bartocci’s de Pretto vs Einstein assertion is known, but he’s never published a scholarly work on the matter so most people consider it unproven Italian chest thumping over a coincidence. The history of science is littered with similar little territorial squabbles of varied merit. This one ranks toward the “low value” end.

    Werner Heisenberg won the Nobel for Physics in 1932 “for the creation of quantum mechanics, the application of which has, inter alia, led to the discovery of the allotropic forms of hydrogen” as the Prize committee put it.

  4. Be very careful making fun of physicists. As usual, science fiction has the prediction:

    QUOTE “Judgment Day” by L. Sprague de Camp

    This is the ultimate Revenge story, in that the fate of the Earth and humankind is at stake and is to be decided by a single individual. Physicist Wade Ormont has discovered a process whereby the lowly element lead can be used as a strange catalyst in combination with other processes to transform the substantial quantities of lead in the earth’s crust to release enough nuclear energy to destroy the entire planet. After checking and rechecking his calculations, he debates whether to release his paper or not, knowing full well that even if buried for security reasons it will eventually be leaked, and most likely trickle into the hands of crackpots or blackmailers or worse, who would have no moral compunctions in using his findings to destroy the world. The bulk of the story then switches to Ormont’s own psyche and upbringing as a frail and bullied child.
    Genetically intelligent, but physically frail and uninterested in interaction with his fellow schoolmates, he is hazed, bullied, embarrassed and tortured to no end—both in public school and a short stint in military school, which was his mother’s idea but which his father was against. He never dated until he was thirty, and following a brief failed marriage has given up women altogether. With some small measure of conscience, aware that most of the men and women on Earth have never harmed him, he nevertheless carries a lifelong grudge against those who bullied him in his youth. He arrives at the following conclusion: “There is one way I can be happy during my remaining years, and that is by the knowledge that all these bullies will get theirs some day. I hate them. I hate them. I hate everybody. I want to kill mankind. I’d kill them by slow torture if I could. If I can’t, blowing up the earth will do. I shall write my report.” UNQUOTE
    By Dave Truesdale, Source: http://www.tangentonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=383&Itemid=165

    Story in Astounding, 1955, later in a collection of Judgment Day and other stories. They say DeCamp himself was a lot like Ormont and had a lot of similar experiences growing up.

  5. Mojo,

    “That makes sense because string theory and gay exorcism are totally related.” That is funny and some day we’ll probably find out it’s true!

    Matthew N.

    Check out this site:

    “W E L C O M E to Science Connection, the meeting place for single science professionals and others with an interest in science or nature.”

    http://www.sciconnect.com/

    This is a legitimate and good site.

  6. Jill –

    That makes sense because string theory and gay exorcism are totally related.

    Well, of course now I’ve got to read that thread …

  7. Mojo,

    there is an entire discussion on string theory under the gay exorcism. You should read that and become enlightened!

  8. Using a skateboard he was simply trying to prove to the other man that two objects can’t occupy the same space at the same time.

    If you really want to see a knock down drag out between these two, just bring up String Theory …

  9. C.Everett Kook…Does a radioactive cat have 18 half-lives?

    Is this Schroedinger’s Cat?

  10. There once was a man named Fisk

    Whose fencing was exceedingly brisk

    So fast was his action

    That the relativistic contraction

    Turned his rapier into a disk

  11. Q: Why are quantum physicists so poor at sex?
    A: Because when they find the position, they can’t find the momentum, and when they have the momentum, they can’t find the position.

    A neutron walked into a bar and asked, “How much for a drink?” The bartender replied, “For you, no charge.”

    Q: What did one quantum physicist say when he wanted to fight another quantum physicist?
    A: Let me atom.

    “Heisenberg might have slept here.”

    Dr. Heisenberg stated unequivocally that he may or may not
    have been responsible for the Uncertainty Principle

    Does a radioactive cat have 18 half-lives?

  12. so…..Heisenberg goes for a drive.

    He is pulled over by a traffic cop who asked “Do you know how fast you were going?”

    Heisenberg replied, “No, but I know where I am.”

    {rimshot}

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