h/t David Appel
An interesting comment on YouTube: "I bet Carl Sagan could have explained it without being a dick."
But he couldn't really. He could conceivably have evaded it more elegantly, perhaps. But the question is unanswerable at the level of sophistication of the questioner.
It started off on the wrong foot because the question was asked so awkwardly that there was some effort at first trying to figure out what the question really means, too.
This is all too familiar. I'm not saying climate science is pure physics, or climate scientists are as smart as Feynman or anything, just that sometimes the best answer is "because that is the way it is, you'll have to trust me; it would take a lot of effort on both of our parts to come up with something better." At least in the case of a magnet, it's part of ordinary mundane experience.
Lucky for Feynman he didn't have Barton commissions and Heartland institutions coming after him.
Still, the fact is that there really isn't a very kind way of saying "I don't expect you to understand this but you really ought to trust me".
The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.
- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)