Title

What Physicists Think of Umami Burger Founder's Continuum Physics Website

I really like physics and find it fascinating and all, but I couldn't claim to having a substantive grasp of it. When my high school physics class went to Magic Mountain for an educational field trip testing the laws of physics, I literally just went along for the rides.

That's why I was intrigued when I read about Umami Burger founder and 800 Degrees Pizza co-founder Adam Fleischman's latest endeavor. His website has a faux-Gothic style text and is supposed to be some kind of manual to help improve business performance through "continuum physics." Headers for the site's first installment Lex Naturalis start with big statements like "Nature Itself is Not Natural" and "A Few Things are Not Intuitive." There are a lot of undefined terms and symbols. And unlike most science-based texts and papers, there isn't a single equation or diagram. (For context, there isn't even a Wikipedia page that covers continuum physics.)

I emailed the website directly and asked a few questions about the site and this idea of continuum physics, since I'd never heard about it before.

I didn't hear back. So I asked some individuals who study physics for a living to give me their professional opinions about the website. Here's what they had to say.

Story continues below

Dr. Michael H. Wong, Planetary Scientist at UC Berkeley Astronomy Department and a collaborator on the Mars Science Laboratory at NASA

"I can tell you right now, the name is misleading. Physics is a branch of science, and science is a way of thinking. If you have an idea (hypothesis), you must devise tests that can prove whether the idea is true or not. That's how science works. It relies on testable hypotheses. No physics curriculum would EVER include this. It's like something you would read on a nutritional supplement label or a cult flyer. Physics is absolutely fundamental to good art and business. Yes. However, continuum physics is not physics."

Toyoko Orimoto, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University Department of Physics, former fellow at CERN

"There are some interesting ideas, and the person who wrote this clearly put a lot of thought into it, but it's certainly not physics. 'Continuum philosophy' would be a more appropriate name."

David, an astrophysicist at an international space agency, had some choice words when he read the text. However, when I asked if I could publish his full name and comments directly he declined and wrote, "We physicists are often seen as too strict and there is a risk that this may give a bad image of us. 'Continuum Physics' is a fiction and not science, but what I wrote [about the text] may be considered too aggressive."

We are dedicated to providing you with articles like this one. Show your support with a tax-deductible contribution to KCET. After all, public media is meant for the public. It belongs to all of us.

Keep Reading

Clips & Segments