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Relativistic Drinking Mechanics

Originally written by Ronan Skared for Jeremy Volume 19, Issue 2 2007

Cleaners at Cambridge recently had to be vaccinated against hepatitis, due to increasing numbers of vomiting freshmen. In this paper we present some strategies related to substance abuse, in the hope that USyd students will be able to hold their liquor.


There have been many previous attempts to apply quantum methods to managing alcohol consumption - most notably, the Department of Imbibement Inhibition’s attempt to quantize

alcohol into standard drinks. These drink counting methods have invariably failed, as nobody drinks middies or light beer. Exacerbating this problem, a person’s arithmetical ability is inversely proportional to their need to know the amount of alcohol in their system.

Here we take a harm minimization approach, whereby we draw direct analogies from Quantum Mechanics. We then correct for relativistic effects.


A. Heinekenburg Uncertainty Principle:

Commonly known as ‘beer goggles’, this principle states that you can either know what a physicist looks like, or you can be attracted to them, but never both at the same time.

B. Bladder Operators:

Self explanatory. The only thing to note is that the first use of a lowering operator can sometimes collapse your wave function, requiring unusually frequent bladder lowering operations for the rest of the night.

C. Commutation:

Commuting operators travel from the Central Coast or the Blue Mountains for a party - due to a lack of transport options, they go home via the same route they arrived. Smooth operators do not commute, as they usually have a pad in the city or go home with someone else.

D. Wave Function:

A surfer’s do is known as a wave function. They can get out of hand, so it is useful to have a commutation relation (a sober sibling with a car), as wave functions are mostly situated in the Northern Beaches away from public transport.


When intoxicated, several relativistic effects also need to be corrected for. The most obvious relativistic effect is the Twin Paradox. The best method of correcting for this involves adaptive optics. Accept that you are seeing double, put your left hands in your pockets (without looking), and move your right-right hand towards the pint on the right, while ignoring the left-right hand that is moving towards the pint on the left. If a group of physicists begin talking about Special Relativity with a non-physicist present, suggest for him to ‘light cones’ and begin smoking them. Before long he will have come up with the successor of String Theory.

The final relativistic effect that must be corrected for, is that when intoxicated, time passes faster than when you are sober. This is an effect known as Time Dilution, and often leads to misjudging a nightclub’s closing time. Time Dilution can spoil a blossoming relationship based on the uncertainty principle, if you forget to leave before the club’s ugly lights come on. The ugly lights remove all uncertainty, separating your and your partner’s mixed states.


Finally, it is important to note that after large quantities of alcohol, your system’s behaviour can become chaotic. Under extreme cases of super-saturation, it is said that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could cause a Technicolour whirlwind into a George St gutter. And while such chaotic behaviour may be a Lorentz Attractor, it is far from a Chick Magnet.


Physoc supports responsible drinking. Just like all the alcohol companies do.

- Transcribed by Lauren

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