December 29, 2014

Horse 1810 - Davidtron: The Chihuahua Shaped Particle

A During my final two years of high school, in Physics classes, I sat next to a frightfully witty and dare I say super-intelligent chap called David Kang (if you are reading this somehow, think of it as a very long dormant piece of praise).
In those days, the number of chemical elements that had been invented on the periodic table was about 104; so the table ended at Rutherfordium and possibly Hafnium. As you do in high school when you're not taking things seriously on occasion, we were suggesting additions for the table such as Vacuumium (chemical element number 0 - which has zero protons, electrons and neutrons) when David suggested the idea of Davidtron.
Apart from the slightly egoistic name, Davidtron remained memorable because Davidtron is unlike any other particle known to physics or chemistry.

Davidtron is an invisible, unobservable chihuahua shaped particle, which exists everywhere that isn't being looked at. The instant that someone looks at a thing, it converts from Davidtron back into whatever other stuff that thing was made from and the instant that a thing ceases to be looked at, it turns back into Davidtron.
As I type this, there is no-one in the back room. As a result, everything that was in the back room is now composed of Davidtron. The thing about Davidtron because it is an invisible and  unobservable chihuahua shaped particle, is that it is also impossible to say how big it is. There might be billions of teeny little chihuahuas or one giant super-massive one - we just don't know; that's the thing about an invisible, unobservable chihuahua shaped particle, it's unobservable.

Bear in mind that Davidtron is not like Bertrand Russell's teapot. Russell used the illustration of a teapot, which was flying in space; somewhere between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter, which could not be observed.
Russell's teapot is an illustration of something which can not be disproven to exist. Russell's teapot was his invention to shift the philosophic burden of proof onto a person making unfalsifiable claims rather than others (specifically in the case of religion).
Davidtron makes up things which are known to exist. The back room isn't some invention like Russell's teapot because Russell openly admitted inventing the teapot. The back room did exist at some point in the past, it does exist now and will exist at some point in the future.
Davidtron shares that aspect with Russell's teapot in that it is both unfalsifiable and unobservable and so Bertrand Russell would probably be ripping his hair out at the thought (which because he is both dead and currently not being looked at, is composed of Davidtron).

Davidtron is more like a strange case of solipsism, in which nothing is said to exist beyond one's self or mental state. Irish philosopher George Berkeley suggested that things only exist when someone is around to perceive them. That tree falling in the woods when no-one was around to hear it - did it make a sound? According to Berkeley, 'no'. There wasn't even a tree in the first place without anyone to perceive it. Berkeley took this as proof of the existence of God; since things exist because God is omnipotent and can perceive everything.

So why even bring up Davidtron? Because on The Great British Bake-Off on the telly last night, someone said that because no one had seen their total cake failure, them it didn't really happen. Immediately I thought of George Berkeley, Russell's teapot and Davidtron. Who knew that watching year-old re-runs on telly could bring up theories of immaterialism?
Or could it be that it's just really hard to forget something as memorable as a invisible, unobservable chihuahua shaped particle?

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