Q&A doesn’t go as expected

There was a fun fictional Q&A by McSweeney’s that covers Peter Higg’s, of Higg’s Boson fame, taking questions for a rather unusual audience. Give the whole thing a read it is hilarious.


PETER HIGGS: I’d like to again thank Scranton Community College and the New Jersey Youth Physics Foundation for extending this invitation to speak about my work. Their dedication to both training tomorrow’s scientists and paying my speaker’s fees in a timely manner is truly an inspiration to us all. But enough of my rambling on! Now that we’ve finished the presentation, I’d like to open the floor and encourage the inquisitive young minds here to spur some discussion about subatomic particles. Who’d like to begin? Yes, you there in the Lord of the Rings shirt. No, the other one. The other other one. Of Gandalf. Could you step up to the microphone, please?

STUDENT ONE: If my half-elf wizard fell off a castle parapet high enough to kill him, could he cast the Dimension Door spell to teleport safely onto a lower surface before landing? My Dungeon Master said the impact would be fatal but I don’t think so.

HIGGS: Hmm. Well, this wasn’t what I had in mind when I opened the floor, but in the spirit of education, let’s entertain the idea. This basically asks if the momentum is conserved after your wizard relocates, yes? It’s been years since I role-played a spellcaster, but even in quantum experiments teleportation appears to conserve momentum. Fatality depends primarily on how long he’s been falling and secondarily on how heavy he is. For humans in earth gravity, most falls above 46 meters are deadly, but I can’t speak for half-elves living in whatever escapist fantasy you’ve constructed for yourself. So, yes. Your Dungeon Master is most likely correct. What an enjoyable diversion! Thank you for that thought experiment. Now, who has a question specifically over the concepts we’ve covered in today’s lecture?

STUDENT TWO: If my sorceress wants to cast a fireball spell to follow a mortar-like parabolic arc, rather than a straight line and exploding on impact, could she do that? Isn’t that how gravity works?

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