The biology of physics

By Phil Plait | May 14, 2008 3:30 pm

Shhhh! No one tell PZ about this cartoon. The next thing you’ll know, he’ll be applying these principles to stellar evolution.

Tip o’ the apple cart to Dave Morton.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Humor, Science

Comments (32)

  1. davidlpf

    I thought apples were designed to fall downward.

  2. davidlpf for the win! (And on the first post, too.)

  3. Peter Eldergill

    I liked trying to decipher the Spanish, not really sure why someone was called a Troll…but apparantly he wasn’t…:)

    “no es un troll… se llama sarcasmo”



  4. davidlpf
  5. Todd W.

    No, no, no. Apples fall because their natural place is on the ground.

  6. Actually, that only works for perfectly spherical apples in a vacuum.

  7. Mom! Look! My blog is on Bad Astronomy! 😀

    Thanks, Phil. You made my day (and it’s only 00:31 here, but I don’t think anything will beat this).

  8. Sam

    What are you all talking about..? The apple doesnt fall down, the earth “falls” upwards to touch the apple.. Mother nature loves apples dontcha know..? She doesnt like feathers all that much thats why she doesnt rush to touch them but instead takes her own sweet time.


  9. Geekoid

    Shane – Why perfectly spherical apples in a vacuum?
    Since there would be no atmosphere for a spin to push against I wouldn’t think there shape mattered.

  10. Richard H.

    Funny cartoon.

  11. Lee Smolin made this, right? 😉

  12. Sam

    BTW, does anyone remember the “Dark Sucker Theory..?”

    The joke started like this

    And all the parody sites that popped up in favor of “Dark Sucker Theory” remind me of the Creationist crowd. Sadly, THEY arent joking..


  13. slang

    Nice Terry Pratchett reference in that blogname, rinzewind! Discworld rox :)

  14. Mike


    Gravity doesn’t exist.

    The earth sucks.

    Though it’s a bit hard to calculate solar orbits that way….

  15. Geekoid: I was playing off an old physics joke.

    A farmer hires a theoretical physicist to find out what’s wrong with his chickens. After a lot of diagrams and calculations, the physicist says, “Well, I’ve got a solution, but it only works for perfectly spherical chickens in a vacuum.”

  16. davidlpf,

    If you’re referring to the theory of “Intelligent Falling,” then you actually have biblical evidence to back you up. After all, it was an apple that led to the Fall of Man. ;-P

  17. I thought apples were designed to fall downward.

    No, God pushes them down.

  18. It kinda reminds me that it all comes down to the perspective of the observer. Our own thoughts and beliefs shape the way we see things. A creationist might have thought of the apple falling on the guys head as the result of God commanding it to fall there. I really can’t say that the creationist is wrong, but I have an easier time beliving the biologist’s take on physics…

  19. Mooney

    This is ridiculous. Obviously, the first apples to hit the ground did so with such force that their seeds were deformed, an acquired trait which was passed on to successive generations, thus making apples that are shaped to hit the ground the most common sort.

    That’s right, I believe in Lamarckian Horticulture!

  20. Alex

    Don’t believe this apple-gravity nonsense. Where are the transitional apples? If you cannot show me an apple in every stage of growth AND fall, I could never believe that apples fall from trees. If you want to believe that apples fall from trees, that is your religion and I resent paying taxes for it to be taught in public schools. Don’t get me wrong, I love science.

    If you define gravity by the apples and apples by the gravity, that’s circular logic!

  21. Buzz Parsec

    Alex, I bow to your logic, and I for one welcome our new Apple overlords.

  22. Frett

    Hey I found this other cartoon, maybe PZ would like this one better:

  23. Marc

    Actually, this isn’t too far from some thinkers…

    Quentin Smith and Lee Smolin (in that order) have formulated “Natural Selection Cosmologies” (or, Cosmogonies).

    Check them out; very interesting.

  24. Apples and apple trees are made of standard matter. Standard matter is naturally selected to “come down” after “going up”. We know this because all matter which didn’t come down isn’t here anymore.

  25. Nails67

    Actually, I thought each apple flew off in all directions simultaneously (possibly into multiple universes if you subscribe to the many granny-smith interpretation), and it was only when Newton was underneath the tree observing that the fruit wave function collapsed onto his head. :)

  26. Rinzewind – my mate in Manchester has a Spanish woman working for him (where I assume he got it from), passed it to me in Southampton, I passed it to the BA and then you read it!

  27. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    It’s a little known detail, but that apple tree (an old and wise Flower of Kent had to retreat to dropping a bucket load of apples before Newton, historically lazy, woke up and got the message. This is suspected to explain Newton’s early retirement into alchemy and religious speculations.

    A farmer hires a theoretical physicist to find out what’s wrong with his chickens.

    The one I have heard goes something like this:

    A leading diary company hires a couple of theoretical scientists in order to get higher production milk cows. The scientists study a farm, tells the company they need a year to develop a working theory, and gets to work.

    After a year they meet with the expectant company directors. The leading scientists walks in front of an empty black board and begins: “Assume a spherical cow…”.

  28. response 1: “I thought apples were designed to fall downward.”

    response 2: “No, God pushes them down.”

    definitive response: “God pushes them down because THE FSM
    asked him to do so”



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