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Matt Jones is a principal at BERG, has done award-winning design work for the BBC, has been a director for Nokia Design and Dopplr, and is a visiting tutor at the Royal College Of Art. He is also very good at drinking beer. I asked him to write to you about whatever was in his head today, and he said:

I just had a chat with my dad on the phone.

He’s 80 this year, a retired – well, lots of things. He gets bored. Amongst other things he was an engineer in the steel industry – and he thought that his grasp of maths might of helped in understanding a recent BBC documentary entitled “What Is Reality?”  (

The programme was a series of interviews with particle physicists and cosmologists. He told me he didn’t sleep a wink after watching it – his mind was racing all night. He told me he came to the conclusion that they were all bluffing.

By coincidence – I’d been reading an article in New Scientist about the many models and theories of quantum reality at play. I told him about the one that caught my eye – referenced in the leader of NS the same week.

It is simply entitled:

“Shut Up & Calculate”.

As that leader article describes:  “the most practical approach comes from the quantum agnostics who simply “shut up and calculate”, while subscribing to no particular interpretation. This approach has delivered novel materials and devices.”

“Shut Up & Calculate” is the ‘what works, works’ practical chaosmagick that gives us most of the early 21st century. It ignores philosophising, and puts it’s emphasis on results. It’s the surprise you get when you turn the handle, rather than worryingly looking at the machine.

So, “Shut Up & Calculate”.

The old engineer laughed.

He liked that. A lot.

Matt Jones blogs when the mood takes him at Magical Nihilism. You can usually catch him speaking at tech and design conferences around the world a few times a year.

Published in guest informant


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