Issue No.02 - March/April (2001 vol.3)
Relativity and quantum theory, the two dramatic advances in physics of the 20th century, are subtle, highly counterintuitive, and mathematical in a fundamental way. In fact, relativity and quantum theory can force one to rethink one's view of the nature of physical reality and ask questions such as "What does 'simultaneous' mean?" "Can one know the precise coordinates of a physical object?" and even "Is that cat alive or dead?" These are good questions which are well worth asking and which might lead to deeper understanding. On the other hand, asking the questions blindly can result in confusion and fuzzy pictures of what's actually happening. The confusion can be entertaining and might even result in popularizations with great titles, such as "Entering the quantum world of self-realization by way of the hidden door" or "Relativity: the story of mass and how to control it (a weight-management method for the postmodern epoch!)" But there's a downside, too.
Francis Sullivan, "Do the Math!", Computing in Science & Engineering, vol.3, no. 2, pp. 4,6, March/April 2001, doi:10.1109/MCSE.2001.10002