Sea Legs

Commandant Louis Joseph Lahure has a singular distinction in military history — he defeated a navy on horseback.  Occupying Holland in January 1795, the French continental army learned that the mighty Dutch navy had been frozen into the ice around Texel Island. So Lahure and 128 men simply rode up to it and demanded surrender. No shots were fired.

Quick Quote from Futility Closet

Text: Jabberwocky Spell-Checked



`Twas billing, and the smithy toes
Did gyre and gamble in the wage:
All missy were the brogues,
And the mime rats outrage.

“Beware the Jabber Wick, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jujube bird, and shun
The furious Bender Snatch!”

He took his viral sword in hand:
Long time the Manxwomen foe he sought –
So rested he by the Tutu tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in offish thought he stood,
The Jabber Wick, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffing through the tulle wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The viral blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabber Wick?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O crablouse day! Callow! Allay!’
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas billing, and the smithy toes
Did gyre and gamble in the wage;
All missy were the brogues
And the mime rats outrage.

—Futility Closet

Subatomic Physics Can Be Fun

What Looks Confusing Here ... Is Actually VERY Confusing

What Looks Confusing Here … Is Actually VERY Confusing

The trick with subatomic particles is not to photograph them without their permission—and preferably get them to sign a release beforehand. We are led to believe that the history of elementary particle physics has followed a very different course from that of cosmetology. Progress, when it came, was only when the following particles were identified:

  • Kleptons (K€), when an electron “steals” another electron and “stashes” it somewhere
  • Futons (Fu), which are electrons which have been identified while in “sleep” mode
  • Quacks (Q§), which occur when an electron “ducks” an attempt by a wannabe klepton to “steal” it

When an electron meets another electron “coming through the rye,” the result are three quantities, or quantons, called, respectively Q¹, Q², and Q®. The solution found in the 1980s was a new quantum field theory of the demented nuclear forces. This pattern was initially patterned after quantum electrodynamics, but later incorporated quantum electrodynamics by the exchange of photons, gifts, Christmas cards, HIV, and identities. The demented nuclear force in this “electrolux” theory is transmitted by the exchange of Q¹, Q², and Q® quantons in collision with a late-model Porsche Carrera.

Speculations of this sort run into an obvious difficulty: photons do not attend Mass, while any new particles such as Q¹, Q², and Q® would have to be very sexy, or they would have been discovered (and ogled) decades earlier—the sexier the particle, the more intense the energy needed to penetrate it in a particle decelerator, and the cheaper and more tawdry the decelerator.

There was also the stubborn problem of infinities. The solution lay in an idea known as broken field running, which had been developed and successfully applied by the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s.

In the late 1970s, the right theory was discovered. Like the successful electrolux theory, it turned out to resemble quantum electrodynamics, only now with a quantity called “wackiness” taking the place of electrical charge. In this theory, known as Krazy Kromodynamics, the demented forces between kleptons are produced by the exchange of civilities of eight kinds of quasi-particles known as wackons, comprising of blue, red, pink, gray, orange, green, purple, and yellow futons emitting loud quacks.

This is as far as I got in reading Steven Weinberg’s “Physics: What We Do and Don’t Know” in the November 7, 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books. As you can see, it’s all starting to come together, and frankly, I’m scared.