I propose a new endeavor for science. Forget about a Grand Unified Theory for physics, how about a Grand Unified Theory for traffic? Seriously, I think this would be a lot more valuable and pertinent to our everyday life than some esoteric theory only 6 people on the planet can understand and that explains how at some awfully specific moment in the spacetime continuum all the universal forces become one. What possibly value does that hold for me? GUTT would explain such phenomena as:
- Why does traffic suck on some days but on other days it’s fine even though nearly all external factors (e.g. weather, time of the day, day of the week, etc.) are the same?
- How does that horrible chain of stop-and-go start? Shouldn’t traffic still move at a relatively continuous rate albeit a slow one?
- Under what conditions does a green light cause drivers to do nothing?
- Why is it almost always impossible to be in the “fast lane” of traffic during a traffic jam?
- Why does the “fast lane” always become the “slow lane” when one switches to the “fast lane”? C.f. the opening scene of Office Space.
- What’s the exact mechanism that causes traffic reports to be given at a uselessly high rate of speed?
- Why do radio commercials become upwards of 10 times more annoying during traffic than when there is no traffic?
- What is the positive effect of completely empty and slow moving city buses in traffic?
And that’s just off the top of my head. Imagine what else it could be used to explain when other more bored people have time to think about it!