The Good Funeral Guide Blog

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

thermo1

 

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.

— Aaron Freeman “You Want A Physicist To Speak at your Funeral” Source

19 comments on “You want a physicist to speak at your funeral

  1. Jed

    Monday 11th March 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.. I had it then, but now it’s gone…

  2. Monday 11th March 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Thanks for the video Richard, great fun.
    As for you, young Callender – come on man, it’s the hair, isn’t it? But relax – I find, as my atoms hurtle towards an increasingly and then ultimately less orderly state, that such trivia matter less and less. Contact me via the Person Displacement Beam Generator I’m sending you and I’ll explain about dark matter, and brain redistribution via TV documentaries. Entropy rules. E=MCsquared. Heat death of the universe. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. GloriaMundi’s unprincipled certainties…..

    Help. I’ve just been Coxed.

  3. Jed

    Saturday 9th March 2013 at 11:51 am

    According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen

    and some of you lot are already dead according to this definition…..

    • Saturday 9th March 2013 at 5:14 pm

      “and some of you lot are already dead according to this definition…..”

      I thought that I felt curiously less orderly than usual, this morning…

      • Jed

        Sunday 10th March 2013 at 12:41 am

        LOL (as a younger person might write!)

  4. Jonathan

    Saturday 9th March 2013 at 9:42 am

    I’m coming into this one late, but I assumed it was a joke when I read the post the other day. Surely no-one could consider it a serious idea? If matter and physical energy compose our entire being and experience, as here implied, then I’ve very probably just eaten my great-great-great grandson for breakfast. He was delicious.

    • Jonathan

      Saturday 9th March 2013 at 9:44 am

      And how do this Brian Cox chappie and his ilk manage so effortlessly to get under everyone’s skin? I had to be told who he is – I tell you, it’s so liberating since I got rid of my telly!

  5. Richard

    Saturday 9th March 2013 at 9:14 am

    Science documentary turned music video:

  6. Saturday 9th March 2013 at 8:58 am

    Of course that should be know, as any fule kno.
    Damn you Brian Cox and your unearthly powers.

  7. Saturday 9th March 2013 at 8:57 am

    Gloria, where to start. Is it his foppish hair, his into-the-distance gaze, or is it his absolute assuredness at everything, explaining the entire cosmos, before ending with a throwaway ,”Of course, 90 percent of the universe is comprised of dark matter, about which we no absolutely nothing.” Whaaaaaat?
    He’s the new pope.

  8. Friday 8th March 2013 at 1:57 pm

    The funeral is surely too late for this – it’s a splendid context in which to look at the end of someone’s physical being, but I can’t imagine anyone finding it helpful at a funeral, unless perhaps a physicist at the funeral of a physicist! Or at least, in a context in which the family had already reached this sort of perspective. Otherwise, it’s magnificently disconnected!

    Vale, I like the idea of this as a crucible for our own word-making, but just by the by, why do so many people have it in for Brian Cox? I think he does show understanding of the significance of what he’s saying. Is he suffering from what the Aussies call the “Tall Poppy” syndrome, or as people used to say, “too clever by half?” Or “too successful by half?” He’s certainly extended my understanding of physics and astronomy – which, fair play, wouldn’t have been too difficult given my starting point!

  9. Thursday 7th March 2013 at 10:42 am

    It’s upmarket Do Not Stand At My Grave.

    • Saturday 9th March 2013 at 4:34 pm

      That very much depends on how we are going to define “I”, Charles!

  10. Thursday 7th March 2013 at 7:38 am

    Hmm. True, yes, but comforting? If anyone said this to me at the funeral of someone I loved, I might just hit them.

    • Vale

      Thursday 7th March 2013 at 10:18 am

      Yes, it’s the Brian Cox syndrome isn’t it? The irritation you feel at the know it all enthusiast who can explain everything, but you feel, hasn’t really comprehended what the experience means.
      Having said that, this is like a crucible for future poets (and celebrants) – a place where the concepts and explanations can be turned into meaning and poetry.

    • Saturday 9th March 2013 at 4:33 pm

      I’m really glad you said that, Ru. I was just trying to work out how to phrase that sentiment.

  11. Tuesday 5th March 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Wow! This was pretty awesome and beautiful if you understand physics. Granted, not everyone will understand the concepts of it unless explained. BUT still pretty cool. Maybe we should have a physicist speak at our funerals.

  12. A Celeb

    Tuesday 5th March 2013 at 9:56 am

    I’m saving this for my funeral – and remembering it for all those funerals I do for scientists.

  13. Kathryn Edwards

    Tuesday 5th March 2013 at 8:17 am

    Awesome and hilarious.

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