I’m a country-boy physicist, grew up on a farm, doing farm things, working with farm things. Most of the other physicists I know are city-boys.
Coming home on a commuter flight recently, on a Dash-8 (turbo-prop), a discussion about physics between me and a city-boy physicist friend came up. I asked him if hew knew how a big plane “brakes” in order to slow down once it gets planted on the runway?
I went to school with this fellow and he got just as good of marks as I did, and does research just as complex as mine.
So the first answer from this fellow, of course, was that the airplane just uses normal wheel brakes, on the wheels of the plane, and that’s why it makes the “bark” when it lands.
So, I told him that the bark he hears is actually just from the non-rotating wheels making contact with a very fast moving surface, and so this is kind of like doing a “burn-out”, or popping the clutch, in your car and making that sound of rubber skidding on asphalt. The brakes aren’t ON as the plane lands!
So then he said, “Well, it’s after that that the brakes come on, then.”
“Sure”, I said, but followed, “Don’t you hear the change in sound coming from the engines?”
“Oh right”, he said, “sorry I forgot, the engines reverse too.”
I said, “Right, the engine reverses thrust, but do you know how it does that?”
He said: “They reverse the direction they’re spinning.”
And THAT is the difference between a farm-boy physicist, and a city-boy physicist. It actually makes me wonder how city-boys can get by in physics at all if they have such a profound lack of physical intuition. Do they truly understand the mechanics and the forces and the energy behind the concepts they are otherwise able to write physics exams on? It’s kind of strange, isn’t it?
I wonder if it is predominantly city-boys who believe in the greenhouse effect, and country-boys who understand that you need the real-time Sun to actually make physics happen. I’m sure there are exceptions to this, of course…I just thought this was very interesting.
If you are able, please comment below about what was wrong with his answer, and why a farm-boy would get it, but a city-boy might not: