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How spherical-cow philosophy makes hard physics problems easy

There’s an old physics joke involving a spherical cow. Though it isn’t side-splittingly funny, it does explain why physics works so well, writes Sean Carroll

7 October 2022

Cows on a green globe

Spherical-cow philosophy appears throughout physics

Shutterstock/MP_P

The following is an extract from our Lost in Space-Time newsletter. Each month, we hand over the keyboard to a physicist or two to tell you about fascinating ideas from their corner of the universe. You can sign up for Lost in Space-Time here.

Physics has something of a reputation for difficulty. It’s not the first university course you sign up for if you’re looking for an easy grade. But there is a paradox lurking behind this reputation. The reason that physics seems …