Today, Jodi took me to the Kavli Institute picnic at Stanford. The Kavli Institute is a place where astrophysicists and particle physicists come together from Stanford, and all over the world, to tackle the most significant problems challenging science right now. The problem of dark matter, the nature of dark energy, the origin of the universe and the cosmic messages encoded in fundamental particles – all of these are the daily bread of the physicists at Kavli.
Today, they had their annual picnic, and I got to go with Jodi. It’s Saturday, so I dropped the dress shirt and wore my “And God Said… (insert Maxwell’s equations here)… Let there be light!” It’s a cute play on the meaning of four equations which represented the first “unification theory” in physics: the melding of magnetism and electricity in what we know as *Maxwell’s Equations* (see below).
These equations predict that light is nothing more than an oscillating electric and magnetic wave – an electromagnetic wave – which is capable of propagating free of a medium (unlike water waves, which need water to exist, or sound, which needs air). It’s as if those famous words, paraphrased, “And God said, let there be light”, were encased in four, simple mathematical equations.
I wasn’t the only one at the party with this shirt. Figures. We must have the same tailor.
The icing on this social faux pax cake was that two individuals, at separate times and without knowledge of one another, both saw my shirt and said, “Maxwell’s equations in integral form?! Who uses them in differential form anymore?”
People at the pancake house find it witty. My fellow physicists find it flawed. Sigh.