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Beryl Lieff Benderly

Tell It to the Judge

Talk about innovative, real-world applications of science! According to the Physics Central blog, physicist Dmitri Krioukov of the University of California-San Diego talked-or, actually, wrote-his way out of a traffic ticket by composing and posting a scientific paper (entitled ‘The Proof of Innocence’). In his paper, Krioukov, who was being fined for allegedly running a stop sign, explains how the police officer who claimed to have witnessed the alleged offense was deceived by an unusual combination of physical effects. Krioukov claimed on the spot that he had actually stopped but the officer couldn’t see it. 

The judge bought the argument and even the officer agreed that Krioukov was right (or maybe he just dazzled them with his equations). This may seem a lot of work to beat an accusation of a moving violation, but conviction would have meant a $400 fine. (There’s no mention of whether conviction would have also meant penalty points on Krioukov’s license).

Krioukov invites readers of his paper to point out flaws. An anonymous commenter on the blog offers, “The flaw?  The paper is dated April 1st….”