Take a wander around any bookshop and you are certain to stumble upon a section dedicated to “Popular Science”. There are thousands of these books available online, too. Now, yes, some are bought because people are genuinely interested in a particular subject. But let’s be brutally honest here: these books are read by many just so they can impress their non-nerd friends.

Pathetic, that is.

Many individuals devoid of interpersonal skills use the smattering of knowledge gleamed from such books in the same way they used to blow milk out their nose at school; to impress the “in crowd” and perhaps find acceptance.

Titles of such books include “30-second Theories” which attempts to cover all of science in 50 snippets. Useful for nerds to learn factoids they can introduce into conversations to make themselves look bright. Well, brighter than you at any rate.

Or how about a “See Spot Run” explanation of Quantum Mechanics, or the Beano exploration of “Hidden Reality” which looks at parallel universes. Or there is “Deep Simplicity” which covers Chaos Theory in 156 pages of big type.

Know what this reminds me of? Do you remember the “Bluff Your Way” series of books?

For example “Bluffers Guide to Opera” and “Bluff Your Way in Wine”, which was a way of learning a lot in 30-minutes and then screwing with the opera and wine snobs. Perhaps today’s publishers should be more honest and give the books appropriate titles. “Bluff Your Way in Quantum Mechanics and make your friends look stupid.” Or “The Bluffers Guide to String Theory – impress your family”.

Yes, it seems that Popular Science is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll. And that’s depressing, because Rock ‘n’ Roll was about fun. Popular Science is about misfits impressing their friends and making themselves look hyper-intelligent, while making everybody else look like chumps.

However, if you want a factoid about quantum weirdness, here’s my gift to you. The Big Bang theory suggests that there was a moment in time when every atom in the universe was condensed into a singularity. This, in turn, means everything in the entire universe is entangled at a quantum level. There is even a school of scientific thought claiming that quantum entanglement proves there is no such thing as space – rather, it is an illusion created by our flawed perceptions. We are all one… and the hippies were right.

Now, just memorise the above information, and go impress your friends. (But, no, you’re not that much of a saddo, are you?)

Drew McAdam


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