Wakalixes – wtf?

Da dies der erste Blog-Eintrag ist, will ich gleich zu Beginn den Titel und vor allem den Untertitel “Wakalixes makes it go!” erklären.

Den Begriff habe ich in der Geschichtensammlung “Surely You Are Joking Mr. Feynman” von Richard P. Feynman gefunden. Es handelt sich dabei um diverse, verblüffende und sehr faszinierende Geschichten aus dem Leben des theoretischen Physikers und Nobelpreisträgers Richard Feynman und ist ein Buch, das jeder, der auch nur einen Funken Verstand besitzt, gelesen haben muss. amazon-link

Hier ist also ein kurzer Auszug aus dem Buch zur Erklärung des Begriffes “Wakalixes”:

Judging Books by Their Covers p297

What finally clinched it, and made me ultimately resign, was that the following year we were going to discuss science books. I thought maybe the science woulb be different, so I looked at a few of them.
The same thing happened: something would look good at first and then turn out to be horryfying. For example, there was a book that started out with four pictures: first there was a wind-up toy; then there was an automobile; then there was a boy riding a bicycle; then there was something else. And underneath each picture it said, “What makes it go?”
I thought, “I know what it is: They’re going to talk about mechanics, how the springs work inside the toy; about chemistry, how the engine of the automobile works; and biology, about how the muscles work.”
It was the kind of thing my father would have talked about: “What makes it go? Everything goes because the sun is shining.” And then we would have fun discussing it:
“No, the toy goes because the spirng is wound up?” he would ask.
“I wound it up.”
“And how did you get moving?”
“From eating.”
“And food grows only because the sun is shining. So it’s because the sun is shining that all these things are moving.” That would get the concept across that motion is simply the transformation of the sun’s power.
I turned the page. The answer was, for the wind-up-toy, “Energy makes it go.” And for the boy on the bicycle, “Energy makes it go.” For everything, “Energy makes it go.”
Now that doesn’t mean anything. Suppose it’s “Wakalixes.” That’s the general principle: “Wakalixes makes it go.” There’s no knowledge coming in. The child doesn’t learn anything; it’s just a word!
What they should have done is to look at the wind-up toy, see that there are springs inside, learn about springs, learn about wheels, and never mind “energy.” Later on, when the children know something about how the toy actually works, they can discuss the more genereal principles of energy.
It’s also not even true that “energy makes it go,” because if it stops, you could say, “energy makes it stop” just as well. What they’re talking about is concentrated energy being transformed into more dilute forms, which is a very subtle aspect of energy. Energy is neither increased nor decreased in these examples; it’s just changed from one form to another. And when the things stop, the energy is changed into heat, into general chaos.
But that’s the way all the books were: They said things that were useless, mixed-up, ambiguous, confusing, and partially incorrect. How anybody can learn science from these books, I don’t know, because it’s not science.


Leave a Reply