Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Your Local Comedy Writer: No Einstein or The Big Fade Theory

Frankly, it scared me. Here I am writing jokes about Einstein's many girlfriends and I never got to the Big Bang theory. There was a time when that would have charged out of my head. All things must pass and I'm starting to sense an age-related fade that actually started around 18. When I was a kid my brain was something else. I don't want to sound obnoxious here, but looking back, knowing what I still can remember now, it really was quite a situation. The teacher's words seemed like they were in slow motion and dragged out, and after every sentence a continuous barrage of wise cracks echoed around my giant skull like the voices a lunatic hears. As I told my father one time, "Parts of my brain work really well, and other parts - not so well." Math? Numbers were like walking into a room full of friends. When I was in 11th grade I got a 760 on my SATs in Math and never even bothered taking them the next year. I also got an 800 on some kind of achievement test senior year. Math aptitude for days. Maybe it relates to writing comedy for a living in the sense that you're accessing your entire memory banks, and sometimes a line bubbles up in the way a solution to a calculous problem did. By the way, I took calculus in college, skipped many of the classes, did the homework stoned, and still aced it so easily that when the last test came I could have gotten something like a D and still got an A for the course. I seem to remember there was a throw-out option for one of your tests, so I didn't even have to take it. Oh well. I wanted to be a musician and so that's what I did. The math came in handy as a waiter figuring out 15% in your head. (Split the number in two, and add one half back to the original, and then move it over one digit.) I don't bring up this part of it much, but hearing that Big Bang joke last night, knowing I had been on that topic was like hearing the call of Father Time. Scary. So it sounds like bragging, but it's actually nursing my wounds a little. Oh well, my joke about Zidane was on and that helped. I loved the numbers on that by the way. Maybe 1 billion watched the incident, another 1 billion probably heard about it. That's out of 6.5 billion total. My joke went on in over 70 countries. Normally, that would be around 7 million people hearing it in this country, although summer viewing is down. Let's be generous and say that 13 million people heard the joke. That's 1 out of every 500 people on the planet. The joke was "Finally a French guy who wants to fight, and they kick him out." It was a routine insensitive slam of France, but business is business. On with today's batch. The Big Bang theory. How could I miss that?


At 1:36 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

While big bangs and girfriends is a ripe field, maybe you were saved from embarrasment.

Most people consider Georges Lemaatre (sometimes spelled Lamaitre) as the true originator of the Big Bang model. He of course based it on Einstein's theory of relativity, but the concept of all-from-not-much is Lamaatre's.

Unless you get into a beer-stoked discussion at the Moon and Six Pense, that is. There are those who will argue that because Fred Hoyle coined the term, he should get the credit.

But both sides would have laughed at Leno had you credited Albert with the theory.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

They went with the Big Bang joke last night. One question I have: Do you believe in the Big Bang? It's a difficult concept for me. The entire universe into such a tiny point? Maybe if it's coming from somewhere else, but it strikes me as implausible to say the least.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

'Believe' is not the operative word here. The beauty of science is that you observe the world, and make a model that explains what you see. It's testable and 'proven' until something else comes along that changes everything.

That's why scientists are such fun people, as opposed to the dour, sour religious zealots who 'believe' what they are told to believe by more powerful people (say popes and Rove). But I digress.

One of life's great pleasures for non-scientists like me is to find someone who knows a lot more than me and, usually with the help of a beer or two, learn what's 'true' today, and how that changed what was true yesterday. Every new fact opens up many more questions to be answered. Never a dull moment.

As for the big bang – it fits what we know at the moment. Whether the universe started out as a pinprick and exploded into what we see today isn’t really all that important (to me; many others will disagree). What’s important is that it is the current model that answers most of the questions we know to ask. Once dark matter is finally described, everything will probably change and maybe we will be taking about billions and billions of mini-bangs. Stay tuned.

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that all of this speculation and theorizing pertains to the “known” universe. We might well be talking of the “local” big bang or the “latest” big bang. When you think of it that way it lessens the metaphysical unrest caused by attempting to grapple with the “everything” nature of the evoloution of matter into its present form.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

One additional note: Science cannot, and probably never will, be able to explain why Homeland Security takes San Diego off the potential threat list and adds a popcorn manufacturer in Indiana.

But again, I digress.

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

One of the fun things about science is the role of imagination. Then of course you try and prove it. Imagine an imploding universe that collapses into a black hole. That implosion is so huge that it bursts through to another universe in the Big Bang. I lean towards all that matter and energy arriving at the point of the Big Bang from somewhere else, with a tremendous head of steam. I guess I'm asking what happened before the Big Bang and how could it have been in any kind of stationary state?
There's also the idea that a sphere passing through a 2-d world would look like a circle getting bigger and then vanishing to a point. So an expanding universe could just be something with more dimensions passing through here.

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