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[Everything rests on that whole "equal and opposite reaction" principle, which Krauss has dubbed "Newton's Curse." The reasoning is that nothing can walk without exerting a backward force on the floor to propel it forward. But if a ghost can do this, it can't also walk through walls -- it should bounce off instead. There is no significant difference, in a physics sense, between the atoms that make up the floor and those that make up the wall, so why should a ghost be able to exert a physical force on one and yet walk right through the other?]

Hi Jenn, I don't think ghost stories hold much water, but I wasn't aware that nebulous clouds (or casper the friendly ghost) used 'feet' to walk or propel themselves or were thus limited by Newton's curse.

Also Jenn, it would be practically impossible for a human to push (or pull) a 10 Ton truck with flat tyres, but fill the tyres with 'air' - and voila!

[The core heats the material surrounding it not with light, but by radiating most of its energy in neutrinos, nearly massless sub-atomic particles that can pass through tons of matter without being affected. As the in-falling gas approaches the core, it is exposed to a higher and higher flux of neutrinos. A tiny fraction of those neutrinos are absorbed. They heat the gas, which expands and becomes buoyant.]

Maybe 'ghosts' have been going to neutrino school and harnessed the power of nuclear physics.
Spirits on the other hand would by definition be moving in a flux state in a different dimension (The Spirit World) therefore would not be limited by the laws of physics in our 3 dimensional world. Ask L Susskind about the laws of physics in the different pocket universes in his Megaverse.

As for ST (Star Trek) is it any more farfetched than ST (String Theory) and is Warp Drive any more far fetched than M-Theory.
That which is not possible is NOT possible, but how can you know till you know (or till you've tried).

Lateral thinking is sometimes called for. Have fun!


There are sinews of Einsteinian thought twisted into string theory's heart: string theory has special relativity built right into its very core. In other words, string theory respects things like causality and the speed-of-light limit. This is as it should be: in familiar situations, where energies are not too extreme and distances aren't too darn small, the stringy world has to reduce to the Einsteinian one, just as Einstein's law of gravity reduces to Newton's for ordinary things like apples and moons.

String theory also doesn't involve a galaxy full of aliens, all of which are humanoid and speak English (and half of which are attracted to William Shatner).

Just as we enjoy Star Trek for what it says about our human desires, Buffy can be enjoyed for the empowering feeling it gives us.

Hi Blake, I think you misunderstood.
Leonard Susskind's Megaverse implies pocket universes where beings will not resemble anything we know, and where the laws of physics are not the same as in our 3 Dimensionsal Space

In the 5th Dimension I gather gravity is 'stronger'

Of course it would have been difficult for old hollywood to create really bizarre humanoids or beings from other dimensions (like Alien say)- and these humanoids just happened to have google translators, which made you think they spoke in english (sometimes).

My point was really meant to be that perhaps we should first try and travel to the galaxies we know and love, before we start dreaming up any more distant pocket universes (beyond the cosmic horizon) - which we have even less chance of travelling too, especially if you cannot even go faster than the speed of light ...
something which will require some lateral or even 'parallel' thinking

And I repeat my favourite saying: If you'd told someone 500 years ago you could talk to someone the other side of the world from a little box which fits into the palm of your hand ... they would have probably locked you up

And if you'd said to anyone you could communicate with just about anyone, just about anywhere on earth almost at the speed of light ... well they might just have burnt you at the stake

But hey this is about slaying with science, not slaying science, or even future science. Right?

You're capitalizing on your talents and proclivities in order to make a living?!? You fiend, you! Your joys are to be pursued after your done in the mine, and no sooner!

My goodness, if we condemned anyone who tried to make a livig doing something they liked, what kind of world would we live in?

Seriously, so you're an aftermarket for Buffy? Sounds good for anyone who isn't forced to pay for your book. I think that list includes... umm... you know, all the humans anyway.

eh, I lose energy to fight such a strange perspective.

I must admit that the physics of the Buffyverse was never really a concern for me. Unlike Star Trek, we're in the fantasy genre, according to which scientific consistency with our world is not a requirement.

In fact, it's pretty much an anti-requirement. Otherwise, it's not really fantasy, right?

But, hey! How could I not read it to see what you've done?

See, now I'd argue that STAR TREK need not be (and sometimes isn't) scientifically consistent with "our world." We're talking fictional universes here in both cases, regardless of genre. (Buffy and Angel are a mishmash of genres -- part of what makes that world so fascinating, in my opinion.) Although it's true that STAR TREK's creator drew on "real" physics, he took liberties with it and extrapolated a bit. That's the hallmark of the best science fiction. (I'm a big fan of THE PHYSICS OF STAR TREK, needless to say.) Any good writer of science fiction or fantasy will tell you that in order to create a believable fictional universe, there must be something recognizable from ours. And there must be "rules" -- some of which, in the case of the Buffyverse, can be used to illustrate real-world laws of physics.

That's my premise anyway. The physics is admittedly a bit less obvious in the Buffyverse than in STAR TREK, but the basic approach is to compare and contrast How Things Work in the Buffyverse with how they actually work in our world, and have a bit of fun in the process. Like THE PHYSICS OF SUPERHEROES (fantastic book), even the howlers can be extremely instructive (not to mention hugely entertaining). Being an avid fan, the last thing I wanted to do was be a killjoy by stripping away every last bit of mystery and ruining the fantasy. :)

There's another way to walk through walls that manages to avoid Newton's Curse. In fact, you avoid classical mechanics entirely, and invoke quantum phenomena, in particular, tunneling.

Consider Kitty Pryde of the X-Men, who has the mutant power to "phase"though solid matter. Presumably she does this by quantum mechanically tunneling through a wall. She would walk toward the wall normally, the same as you or I. As she reached the wall, she would turn on her mutant power, which presumably allows her to control her tunneling probability (in particular, making the probability of tunneling Unity). At this point she continues moving with the same speed and direction she had following her last, normal step. Once through the wall, she turns off her tunneling power, and can continue running or walking normally. Presumably she doesn't fall through the floor while tunneling when standing still because she maintains the same total energy she had before activating her power.

All this is described in THE PHYSICS OF SUPERHEROES, coming this month in paperback (who says this isn't the Marvel Age of Shameless Plugs?). Thanks for the kind words about my book, by the way, Jennifer. I agree with you entirely - much better to take the obviously fantastic world, whether its Star Trek, Comic Books or Buffy, and then see how much real physics can be explained within the constraint of the suspension of disbelief. The traditional methods of explaining physics work fine for those who will be physicists or engineers. If those who are not intending on a career in the mechanical arts, but who remain voters and citizens for the rest of their lives, can gain some scientific insight from Buffy, I think that's great!

Face front, True Believer!

Jennifer,

I added PoTBV very long ago. Can't wait.

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.