LESSION 2: Who is the fairest…?

Good morning, Class! We will pick up right where we left off with Lesson 1.

The three amigos Wilczek, Politzer and Gross made a theory of how Something and Another Thing are related. Then some other hombres in a big garage made experiments and plotted the data, error bars and all. So now we have the comparison between the theory (continuous line) and the experiment:

Some gods sitting on Mount Kirunavaara saw this, and they saw that this was good. Then they said among themselves, in the language the gods speak: “Det är bra”, meaning “Right on!”. So then they turned to the World and said: ” Denna är den korrekta teorin.”, that is, “This is the correct theory.”

And so it came to pass that one wintry October morning in 2004, the three plain amigos became star-bellied amigos. And the World rejoiced.

Now my country cousin Bhombol, who is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, reads about this in a science magazine. Then he goes: “Wait a minute. Wait just a minute. Not so fast!”

Everybody laughs of course. Bhombol challenging the gods?! But undaunted, he goes on. He takes a felt tip pen, and draws two lines on the above diagram. He says: “Every theory that falls in this general envelope is just as correct.”

So I say: “There are no other theories!”

“It does not matter if there are other theories, or if there will be other theories. This is a point of absolute logic.”

I am a little taken aback by cousin Bhombol talking of logic. I say: “Explain.”

He goes: “Here is the point of absolute logic: If there were two or more theory curves within this envelope, then based on this set of data, it would be impossible to decide which is correct. Therefore, there is no way you can say that the one theory there is is the correct theory.”

“Well, then you have to go to the actual subject of the theory, and bring more considerations into the bargain.”

“Not at all. This is the base truth of logic and science. You cannot wiggle out of basic truth by coloring it. You cannot suspend common sense and invoke higher sense. It does not matter what the actual subject is. It does not matter if we are talking physics or the financial markets. The only way to choose between these theories is to acquire more data, and/or tighten the error bars. Then the two felt pen lines will collapse on the correct theory. As I see it, this field remains wide open to new contributions.”

Indeed, that is exactly what we have said in Lesson 1: It does not matter what the experiment is. Cousin Bhombol’s point is crystal clear.

Now Class, look around you. There are in attendance today twenty of you, with only one female member. She indeed is most becoming, but what does it mean to say that she is the prettiest girl in the class?

Lesson 3 coming soon.

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