Scientists Discover 'Hamilton Effect'

By Matthew Sweet
Published January 17, 2011

Physicists at McMaster University announced today that they had discovered a unique phenomenon which makes the City of Hamilton seem not only farther away from other cities than it actually is, but also renders the city unpalatable and beyond reproach.

The phenomenon, dubbed the "Hamilton effect", has often been noticed anecdotally by residents and visitors alike. However, only recently have scientific efforts been put in place to fully understand it.

A successful grant application drawing on public funds allowed a group of McMaster physicists to assemble a team of local graduate students with no impending job opportunities otherwise.

The process to identify the phenomenon utilized a wide-reaching survey, which focused on friends and relatives of current Hamilton residents living outside the urban boundary. (The survey stalled more than once when said urban boundary was about to expand, then did not, then was about to again, then did not again.)

Respondents were asked to estimate the time it took to travel from their homes to the City of Hamilton, as well as to rate their willingness to make the trip, how excited they were to see loved ones who lived in Hamilton, and comment on what would improve their chances of visiting.

Marked Lack of Enthusiasm

Findings showed that the vast majority of outsiders showed a marked lack of enthusiasm to visit their loved ones who live in Hamilton. More interestingly, many carried a fully irrational belief that a trip to Hamilton would take far longer than in reality.

One respondent from Oakville suggested a trip to downtown Hamilton would take "at least two hours, including time lost navigating those damned one way streets".

A respondent from Montreal with friends in Hamilton noted that the six hour journey to Toronto was acceptable, but "the extra time to get to Hamilton makes the trip intolerable."

The research team took this finding to the next stage of investigation in an effort to understand how so many people could share similar perception errors. Ultimately it was one of the graduate students who postulated the theory that Hamilton itself generates some sort of quantum singularity which distorts reality to outsiders.

"It occurred to me while I was watching this one episode of Star Trek," said Warren Routledge. "Most of the writing on that show is grounded in solid theoretical science anyways, everyone knows that."

Surprising Source

The most startling finding was yet to come for the team. After developing a sophisticated tool to measure the singularity itself (the details of which we won't bother the reader with here to save room for advertising space), the team was able to localize and describe the source of the singularity itself, suggesting a possible solution to the problem.

"Its us," said Professor George Paul Johnson. "All of us who live in Hamilton have created and sustain this singularity which now surrounds us. Ironic, eh?"

Ultimately, the team concluded that there's nothing about the City of Hamilton itself that is creating this phenomenon. It is the self-loathing citizenry, overcome with inferiority complexes from living so close to Toronto and reeling from the poor decision making of previous generations, unable or unwilling to see the mistakes of the past and doomed to repeat them, that has formed this impenetrable fog which distorts the inherent quality of Hamilton.

"Remember that episode where the Enterprise gets stuck in a temporal causality loop, you know the one where Kelsey Grammer appears as a Captain from the past?" notes grad student Routledge. "Its the same thing here, we keep saying the same things and doing the same things over and over again. What we need is something to break us out of the cycle!"


The team has formulated a series of aggressive yet easily-implemented recommendations designed to eliminate the singularity and allow all Hamiltonians to share pride in their city without making apologies or developing elaborate excuses to explain that pride.

City council has stated their eagerness to see the document. However, their attention has been diverted by a request from Carmen's Banquet Hall to pave over greenspace to expand their parking lot.

One Councillor, speaking on terms of anonymity, noted that while the study sounded like it was pretty solid, the recommended measures should be implemented slowly so as not to disrupt the fragile economic recovery.

Matthew Sweet is a graduate of Mohawk's Transportation Engineering Technology program and is also a McMaster alumnus. He currently works in Cambridge and lives in Hamilton. If you run into him in public at various transportation related events, please don't bring up his ramblings on RTH comment threads, everyone knows such things don't count in real life.


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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 08:29:36

Oh sure blame the Hamiltonians. Its a tough job keeping track of all those possibilities!

Great way to start my day, thanks Matthew!

Also Ryan, looks like I found a bug in how markdown parses URLs. My link happened to end with a ")" so Markdown ignored the second close bracket for the markdown link syntax and messed up the link. It`s below for anyone interested

Comment edited by UrbanRenaissance on 2011-01-17 09:12:16

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2011 at 11:21:20

Or it could just be the traffic on the QEW.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 17, 2011 at 11:28:56


Re-read that Wiki link, specifically the "Randomized algorithm" paragraph. Now replace 'neighbor' with 'handout'. 'Stadium location' works as well but isn't nearly as much fun!

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 21:31:34

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-18 21:32:01

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 23:10:31

I have to agree with the person from Oakville.. "those damned 1 way streets" make it worth staying home.

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2011 at 23:13:47


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