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Zoe Louise Matthews | ASY-EOS | UK

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Jonathan Creek could have been a physicist

I am currently very busy preparing to give a talk at a very prestigious and exciting conference later this year. I can’t say much until after the event but it is a very important step in my career, so I won’t have much blogging time. However, I can pop little snippets on here and there. It was my birthday recently and my boyfriend bought me a dvd boxset of Jonathan Creek. I haven’t had much chance to watch it (for reasons mentioned) but I watched it when I was younger and it was nice to be reminded of what I like about it.

Jonathan Creek is a magician’s technical advisor and assistant. He befriends a pushy journalist and they go solving mysterious murder cases and other crimes together. It sounds a little cheesy, but in reality, the mysteries they solve are always baffling, and they are always resolved through careful, logical reasoning. For example, *WARNING, A SPOILER MAY FOLLOW*, an old building developed a terrifying myth because a handful of men had mysteriously died there of heart failure, by the window, after taking their shoes off getting ready for bed. Witnesses for each death who were standing outside claimed to have seen them come to the window, see something horrifying and drop dead. Through careful, logical and methodical investigation, and avoiding completely the trap of “it must be a supernatural, haunted thing”, Mr Creek discovers what caused their deaths was a set of small electrified pins hidden in the floorboards in holes disguised as woodworm (he first noticed the woodworm was not on the skirting boards but appeared only on the floor) *SPOILER OVER*.

So why am I telling you about Jonathan Creek? After watching a few episodes again, I realised something. If Jonathan Creek had tried to be a physicist he would have been brilliant at it. Investigating something strange by considering the possible logical explanations, searching for little clues, things which look unusual, even if you can’t explain the significance of them right away… can lead you quite nicely to a discovery. This goes not only for general physics analysis problem solving but for computer program debugging too! 🙂

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4 responses to “Jonathan Creek could have been a physicist”

  1. Marcos Santander says:

    I agree with you, a smart detective could probably do a nice job as a physicist. I wonder if it’s also true the other way around, to put it in more precise QM language:

    [ physicist, detective ] = 0 ?

    🙂

  2. Zoe Louise Matthews says:

    🙂 Fantastic philosophical question – do physicists and detctives commute. Heehee.

  3. Frank Simon says:

    Enjoy your trip to Brazil end of next month (I guess this is where you’re going, I’ve been to an earlier conference in that series a few years ago in Cape Town)… And good luck getting all the material ready for your talk!

  4. Zoe Louise Matthews says:

    Thanks 🙂