Monday, April 02, 2007

Relativistic Obesity

The obesity epidemic in America has reached relativistic proportions, with some overweight citizens gaining so much weight that they distort the space and time around them. As the photo below demonstrates, the largest Americans are now capable of gravitationally lensing their suburban environments.

According to the surgeon general, this represents a disturbing new trend in the fattening up of America. All previous dietary guidelines and predictions have been based on Newtonian physics. Researchers never imagined that people could shovel enough food down their gullets to perturb the space-time continuum. This recent development shows that it is actually possible for human fat cells to gravitationally collapse into degenerate matter.

Naturally, fat groups are outraged. “This is just another facile ploy to blame individuals of stellar mass,” said Julius Gloop, spokesperson for Fat Pride. “We are being victimized by an anomalous law of physics, a law that doesn’t even have the decency to abide by the Standard Model.” Mr. Gloop then struck out at the term “degenerate matter”, claiming that such base and unsubstantiated slurs were not conducive to a healthy debate of American’s eating habits.

“Degenerate to whom? To chemists? To plasma physicists? Obviously this sort of electron shell elitism serves only to denigrate the working poor who can’t afford gym memberships and organic cranberries.” Mr. Gloop then demonstrated that this so-called degeneracy was a boon, as his weight gain actually reduced his pant size, due to the effects of gravitational self-compression. Some physicists found this trend worrying, however.

“There is a practical limit to the amount of weight a person can gain,” said professor Alfred Gauntly of Queanbeyan State University. There comes a point where the carbon and oxygen atoms in fat cells get so close together that they undergo a runaway fusion reaction, producing a spectacular nuclear explosion known to astronomers as a supernova.” The effect of one of these explosions on a typical suburban mall would be rather disruptive. But where some scientists see danger, others see opportunity.

“For years, science has been trying to find a way of rapidly transferring mass in order to measure gravity waves,” countered professor Max Higglebotham of the Nebraskan Oceanography Institute. By compressing some of the relativistically obese into a critical mass, we could create those conditions in the lab, thus testing fundamental theories of gravity.” Indeed, until the widespread adoption of junk food and sedentary living in the western world, scientists did not have the means to grow PhD students who not only blocked out the light, but actually made it bend out of their way. Now these students are in hot demand. “The only problem,” said professor Gauntly, “Is finding ways to maintain their mass during a 6 year PhD program, where all they can afford to eat is Raman noodles.”

Hat tip to cosmic variance for the link to the lensing site.

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