Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Some things are like other things

Now don't you ever get caught out when trying to explain a bit of out there theoretical physics to the lay man, and think "what I really need is a useful analogy to a real world situation that they can relate to". Well if you don't then you should, because I'm forever in those sorts of situations. Why only today I was trying to explain the about Gravitational Radiation from Standing Accretion Shock Instability in Core-Collapse Supernovae to a passing ned (for non-Glasgow folk see here for the definitive ned guide) and instead of thanks for enlightening them on the subject I got a harsh chibbing. If only I'd had a Buckfast or Kappa based analogy to hand I might have only received a light bottling - I made this story up, but it illustrates the point.

So on this note (and having talked a bit about it with Bob the other day) I would like to set up some sort of repository of physics/astronomy analogies. I've heard some good ones in the past and promptly forgotten them, so it would be nice to have them written down and collated somewhere. For the moment this repository will just be this post and its comments section, but this may move somewhere else if I get a large number of analogies. And this is where you come in, my loyal reader(s), if you can think of or have heard any good (well even bad) physicsy analogies then send them to me. Also spread the word to others.

I would like to kick this off with a good analogy myself, but my mind is drawing a blank. I'll try better for tomorrow.