Einstein at the Bus-Stop

Jenny Diski

For the purposes of plain getting on with things – keeping warm, staying fed, making babies – there is no reason on earth, or off it, why anyone not actively engaged in the world of science should comprehend the underlying workings of physics. All we really need to know is that, accurate or not this week, relativity, cosmology, quantum mechanics don’t concern us in our everyday lives. Let the quantum physicist panic because she knows the floor she walks on is almost entirely empty space with a few widely scattered molecules dotted here and there. The rest of us stomp around in blissfully ignorant confidence that – barring unforeseeable acts of God – a floor will continue to do what a floor is supposed to do. Or as the New York Times for 10 November 1919 put it, ‘Einstein Theory Triumphs. Stars Not Where They Seemed or Were Calculated to Be, but Nobody Need Worry.’

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