The Physics Act of 1707 was the result of a major convention, held in Brussels, Belgium, to decide upon the foundation and the direction of the then newly emerging laws of physics. It was decided upon after a series of compromises between the leaders of the modern world's powerful nations at the time; powerful, in this instance, meaning "relevant," or "home to enough white people to wind up in a history book."
The Act itself outlined all of the major laws of physics, which would govern the clumsy tumbles of European monarchs, top heavy from their massive wigs, for years to come.
The background of the convention
The 18th century was just beginning, the Renaissance was winding down, and mankind, especially Europe, had reached new heights of imperialist pomposity. However, many of the powerful monarchs were still unsatisfied. Queen Anne of Great Britain, for example, complained of constantly switching cardinal directions. "It's just not fair," she wrote in her diary.
Other rulers faced similar issues. Louis XIV, of France, wrote at around the same time: "My wig! My giant, powdered wig that I am not using to compensate for anything! With the changing of gravity, she will not rest on the top of my head! At least, not very soundly! Woe is me, for my anguish is unparalleled!" Clearly, the laws of physics needed to be decided upon and enforced.
And so it was that Frederick I of Prussia began organizing the Physics Convention of 1707. A wise ruler, he knew that the collective egos of so many European rulers would not fit into any ordinary conference hall. He felt the convention would need a lot of "living space," as he put it. So, in the grand German tradition, Frederick conquered Belgium, and commandeered the use of its capital, Brussels, for the convention.
Still, though, he had to convince the other monarchs to attend. Again, Frederick was wise enough to know that the kings and queens of Europe would not simply attend the conference to solve mutual problems and collectively work towards a common goal. This would be too easy. Instead, Frederick I resorted to numerous Agatha Christie-esque means to coerce the European rulers to make the voyage to Belgium. Phillip V of Spain, for example, received a lengthy letter directing him to Belgium that was signed by an old friend, but actually was written by someone named "U.N. Owen," but was actually actually written by Frederick I.
Peter the Great of Russia, meanwhile, was mailed a piece of paper with a large yellow arrow on it. He began to follow the direction that the arrow pointed towards, and walked headfirst into a wall. When Peter regained consciousness, he was at the convention.
The gravity controversy
One of the first issues tackled by the convention leaders was arguably the most important: Deciding upon a set direction for gravity. This issue divided the convention leaders into three rival factions. The first faction, the "uppers," wanted gravity to pull upwards. "That way, we'll never have to worry about falling off the edge of the world again!" declared a confident Joseph I of Austria. He and Peter the Great were the main "up" proponents.
The second faction was supported by Frederick I, Phillip V, and Louis XIV, and advocated gravity that pulled down, towards the earth. The "downers" drew upon the texts of the famed gravity expert Sir Isaac Newton, and wanted to "stay on the ground, lest we fall into the sky, an abrupt and frightful journey which would surely cause we royal types to become queasy or nauseous, and, until the cessation of the dreadful unpleasantness, puke, vomit, hurl, ralph, yak, barf, and toss our royal cookies."
The third and final side of the gravity argument was championed solely by Queen Anne of Great Britain. Her objective was to pass a law of gravity similar to that of the "downers's," but, as Anne herself put it, "more British." Anne's "British Down," as she called it, would be "like French down, except way cooler 'cause Britain is way cooler, unlike the Frenchies, who are totally lame and I hate them."
After hours of wise rhetoric, dignified debate, and petty insults, "regular down" was eventually decided on.
Laws of motion
Unlike the laws of gravity, which were the subject of much debate, the laws of motion were decided on fairly quickly. Three of Isaac Newton's laws were chosen, since Newton was deemed "cool enough" by the convention, and three was the most laws the monarchs could remember at once, inbred fellows that they were. The first law passed was Newton's law of inertia. This law defined the principles of inertia, mainly stating that "shit don't stop 'til I say it stops." The next law passed was Newton's second, and is is known as "Newton's law of fancy words and complicated-looking formulas that we'll just gloss over for now so we don't look dumb trying to explain it." This particular law was considered particularly important by the convention. Yes, important...very important. The third and final law that was made law was Newton's law of reciprocal actions law. LawLawLawLawLawLaw. It is commonly known today that, as a result of this law, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." It is sometimes called "Newton's law of revenge being okay because nature did it first."
Several weeks had gone by, and the rulers were, at last, finalizing their document. However, they still had one last ordeal to whine their way through. One day, several high-ranking Catholic Church officials appeared at the convention. Seeing that they had reached an institution of science, a practice more abhorred than devil-worship and expressing sexuality combined, they immediately went about excommunicating everyone in the room.
Queen Anne of Great Britain was the first to protest. "I'm not even catholic," she declared. "You can't excommunicate me!"
"Quiet!" demanded one of the church officials. "You're excommunicated whether you like it or not!"
Anne had no retort, so she curled into a ball and wept in the corner. She was lucky. Peter the Great also protested his excommunication, and was hit on the head with a comically enlarged hammer.
The Catholics went on to burn down the great convention center, yelling "God loves to burn shit and so do we!"
The final act
And so, after weeks of bickering, the European leaders emerged from the charred ruins of their once-great convention center with nothing left but the charred Physics Act of 1707 and a new found hatred for one another. The laws of gravitation and motion made it to the final bill, while other laws, such as "making it so atoms are actually really, really tiny unicorns," and "making the sky green, because green is the prettiest," did not.
So it was that in September of 1707, the Physics Act of 1707 was made law all across Europe (in 1707), from whence it spread across the world more rapidly than the AIDS virus. Despite its progressive nature, the document still angered many enlightenment thinkers of the time, because it wasn't ratified by any democratic governing bodies. Voltaire, only 12 years old at the time, wrote in his diary, "Today I wanted crayons. But I didn't get crayons. I was sad. That's why mommy and daddy had to die." Still, the Act was widely accepted by the majority of Europeans, who had no idea that it was passed. In the end, it may be best known for its final words:
|“||And so, we, the rulers of Europe, vow to uphold these physical truths of motion and gravitation, in the name of God and country, because we deem them right and just, which are two very nice things to be deemed, so you're welcome, physics. We will defend these laws for as long as it isn't too hard to do so. Also, this document is not an exercise in futility by a group of monarchs who only think they can change the laws of physics if they choose to... Monarchs can't think! Ha ha ha, sorry about that, just a little joke to lighten up an otherwise extremely weighty and very very serious document. Yes... yes.||”|
Surely, whatever the writers of this document were thinking still holds true, even today. Something about freedom, I bet. GO FREEDOM!