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Joao Magueijo: Crappy Physicist?

After a bout of heavy partying one night, physicist Joao Magueijo awoke with a hangover and wondered whether Einstein had in fact been wrong about the speed of light.

Assuming that light had traveled faster in the first instants after the Big Bang, he realized, would solve some serious cosmological dilemmas, among them the so-called horizon problem; faster communication would explain why the universe is now so homogeneous.

Like many heterodox scientific ideas, Magueijo's was not very well-received and his book outlining them (Faster Than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation) was larded with many choice words for his critics, among them the editor of Nature magazine, whom Magueijo called a "first-class moron" and a "failed scientist" with penis envy.

Under threat of a libel lawsuit, Random House (Magueijo's publisher) destroyed many copies which had already been printed, turning them into pulp paper which -- through the wonders of recycling -- might, ironically, find their way back to him:

"The next time I go to the supermarket and buy toilet tissue," he explained, "I'll know that my work is there!"

["It's been called anarchist physics," Magueijo once said of his ideas. "We are the Sex Pistols of physics." (Magueijo christened his idea "VSL," for "Variable-Speed-of-Light" theory. Critics suggested that it stood for "Very Silly.")]

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