679: Christmas Plans

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Christmas Plans
Physicists who want to protect traditional Christmas realize that the only way to keep from changing Christmas is not to observe it.
Title text: Physicists who want to protect traditional Christmas realize that the only way to keep from changing Christmas is not to observe it.


This comic centers around a joke about Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in physics, which states that you can know where a particle is, and you can know its momentum, but you can't know both simultaneously. The title text further reinforces this joke.


[Character A is standing behind Character B, who is sitting at a computer.]
Character A: Hey, will you be in town the day after Christmas?
Character B: Couldn't say—
Character B: I'm Jewish.
Character A: But... how does being Jewish keep you from knowing your plans?
Character B: I know my plans—
Character B: I just don't know when Christmas is.
Character A: Really? Why not look it up?
Character B: Well, I'm also a physicist.
Character A: So?
Character B: I believe that since I don't observe Christmas, it can't have a definite date.
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Interestingly, the comic text could be interpretted as dealing more with classical physics (only by observation do we actually know something) while the hover text is definitely referencing the fact that observing does something to a quantum system. 12:57, 17 May 2013 (UTC) A bit of theology: Jews are still waiting for Christ to be born, which makes 'I just don't know when Christmas is.' even more true. 06:05, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Strictly speaking, we're waiting for the Messiah to be born. With any luck, he or she won't get crucified, so it won't be proper to refer to him/her as "Christ". 07:25, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Loosely translated, "Christos" means messiah in (transliterated) Greek. It's descended from "chriein" meaning "annoit". So, yes, Jews are still waiting for Christ. The proper term is still "messiah", though, as it is the equivalent Hebrew term (parallel etymologies even! See Merriam-Webster for both). Anonymous 18:26, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Does the idea the title text references also apply to infrared thermometers? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
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