Sometimes It Is Science All the Time Around Here

I’m often amused by the things science evidently can’t explain. The Chick Tract Big Daddy, nominally about evolution, claims that science can’t explain why an atom’s nucleus holds together even though it’s packed full of positively-charged particles.

In the tract Big Daddy, Jack Chick claims the strong nuclear force doesn't existIn the Chick Tract Big Daddy, atoms are held together by Jesus

In the version I read long ago, gluons weren’t even mentioned — the tract merely claimed that no one knew why atoms held together. At the time I murmured, “the strong nuclear force?” At some point Chick updated it to refute quantum chromodynamics, the theory that describes the strong nuclear force that holds atoms’ nucleii together, by saying “Nuh uh!”

That’s semi-defensible: QCD is a deep subject, an area of physics that you really only run into if you specialize in physics in school. More puzzling is that Bill O’Reilly doesn’t know how tides work.

O’REILLY: I’ll tell you why [religion’s] not a scam, in my opinion: tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can explain why the tide goes in —

SILVERMAN: Tide goes in, tide goes out?

O’REILLY: See, the water — the tide comes in and it goes out, Mr. Silverman. It always comes in, and always goes out. You can’t explain that.

In sixth grade my science class focused on Earth science. One of the topics was tides, where I learned that the Moon and Sun’s gravity pulled our oceans around, causing tides. I also learned that the Moon is tidally locked to the Earth, meaning that the same side of the moon always faces the earth. That should give a hint that things orbiting around each other has something to do with tides.

Let me present some new information to counterbalance ignorance: did you know that eventually the Earth will be tidally locked to the Moon? Just like the Earth now stays at a fixed location relative to the Moon, the Moon will stay at a fixed location above the Earth. As a side effect, the Earth’s rotation relative to the Sun will slow, and the Moon will move further away from the Earth. As an exercise for the reader, can you explain why this is happening? Bonus points if you can predict how long a day on Earth will then be.

Oh, and here’s the full video featuring Bill O’Reilly:

9 Comments