In completely unrelated news, I wrote a quick essay for a contest at work on the prompt “If you could have a superpower for a day, what would it be?” Since it ate my blog-post-writing-time, I thought I would offer it up as sacrifice instead:
Full essay below the break.
The superpower I would choose for a day would be the ability to ‘see’ physics.
What does that mean? Everything around us has thousands of quantitative properties associated with it – from the electrical current through a wire to the acidity of a drink to the speed of a flying ball to the calories in a piece of cheese. My superpower would give me the ability look at anything and know any of these properties. On top of that, the power would also be able to take these properties and show me any of the analyses with them that one would normally have to do on paper or in a computer. So, looking at a bowling lane from above, I would be able to see something like this:
Obviously, this being a superpower and not an insanity-inducing disability, I would have the ability to pick and choose which properties to see for everything around me.
Even having this ability for a single day would be mind-blowing. While the most obvious use of the power is to predict almost anything in the short term, it as much deeper uses as well: I could literally see the validity of much of modern science and hopefully many ways to improve on it. Of course, I certainly wouldn’t mind if I happened to acquire this power on the day of a major golf tournament either.
While the ability to see physics isn’t the power I would want permanently, (that would be the ability to control thermal energy with pinpoint precision) I would want it more than any other for a single day. Although the power would only last 24 hours, the knowledge that I could gain with it benefit me for lifetime and hopefully even longer for humanity.