Math invades the U.S. House: Congressman rises to hail solution to the Boltzmann equation

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 22:09 EDT
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Representative Jerry McNerney screenshot
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A congressman from California provided an unusual sight on Wednesday: talk in the U.S. House of Representatives of geometrical fractional derivatives to solve 7-dimensional quantum equations.

While legislators were giving predictable speeches on the economy and recent government scandals, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) rose to announce the solution of a century-old mathematical equation used to predict the movement of gaseous particles.

“I rise to announce a new advancement in mathematics,” he said. “An algorithmic solution to the full Boltzmann equation that has taken 140 years to solve. The full 7-dimensional equation provides a crucial link between the microscopic or quantum behavior of atomic particles on the one hand and the behavior that we humans observe on the other hand. It does this by predicting how gaseous material responds to external influences such as changes in temperature and pressure quickly settling to a stable equilibrium.

“The solution of this equation gives us an understanding of the grazing collisions when molecules glance off one another, which is a dominate type of collision,” McNerney explained. “The algorithm uses a range of geometrical fractional derivatives from kinetic theory.”

The congressman concluded by congratulating Philip T. Gressman and Robert M. Strain of Penn State’s Department of Mathematics for solving the equation.

Another odd thing about McNerney’s speech on the House floor? The “new advancement in mathematics” is about three years old.

Watch video, courtesy of CSPAN, below:

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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