I don’t think that the genius of Chris Morris has penetrated the USA, which is a shame as he is one of the greatest comedy and satire brains of all time. Even in the UK, he’s somewhat counter-culture, and his satire shows such as Brass Eye and The Day Today were fairly obscure by TV standards. Oh, except for the Brass Eye special on paedophila, which attracted 2000 complaints (and 3000 calls of support, huzzah). A satire on the media and public hysteria (and witch hunts) following the Sarah Payne murder (think Megan but over the ocean), it was some of the most important TV ever made.
Brit DJ Neil Fox, believing he was taking part in a real documentary, happily read his autocue for the viewers: “paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me. Now that is scientific fact – there’s no real evidence for it – but it is scientific fact”. Making Morris’ point nicely, I think.
What has this to do with anything? Well, alongside Alan Moore, Richard Feynman and Donny Hathaway, Chris Morris is one of very few people I consider “my hero”. So I was jolly amused and delighted to read this Guardian piece by him today on his visit to the Large Hadron Collidor at CERN. His writing style is fascinating (almost Hemingwayish) and his take on the physics is charming.
“You think a vacuum is empty space. Quantum theory says yes – but it is also full of spontaneous eruptions of energy. This virtual energy comes from nowhere. It does and doesn’t exist. You can use the bit that does, so long as you pay it back. This beats sub-prime. A physicist called Polkinghorne says the quantum vacuum is the nearest analogy to God in the physical world. Then again, the physicist who is brainwashing me in the CMS says quantum theory is “probably bollocks”.”
PS: The ‘Astroblogger‘ mentioned in Chris’ article is none other than my buddy the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait. Jealous, me?