Last night, a friend of mine proposed an interesting way to think about light. Although, it wasn’t until later that I actually understood what he was proposing. When he said it, I really wasn’t sure what he meant. Let me first try to describe the idea as it was described to me:
Imagine that light is neither a particle nor a wave. Instead, we only see light because there is a potential path for light to travel between whatever object we’re looking at, and our eyes. So then, what is dark? Dark is the impossibility of light.
Now, I had a couple problems with this. First off, if this is the case, then where does the light come from? The only answer I was given was basically “we don’t know”. But, I think I’ve solved the puzzle that is this proposition. Again, let’s imagine that light is neither a particle nor a wave. Instead, think of light as a field of potential. If you don’t know what a potential field is, think about gravity or voltage. We can describe both of these as a type of potential, and observe the potential compared to other places in the field. These fields are not local fields, they are everywhere, but they are very weak away form the sources. (continue reading…)
Woah. Here’s a scary topic. Talking about science and religion in the same blog post. That’s dangerous. Look, I even put them next to each other in the title! I must really be crazy. Or, more hopefully, I have some interesting thoughts. Let me start out with a quote from the book (and movie) Angels and Demons:
Science and religion are not at odds. Science is just to young to understand.
In preparation for going to Fermilab, my AP Physics C class has been learning about quantum physics and string theory. I find all of this rediculously fascinating. Yet, when I start hearing dates, it sounds like all of this was figured out so long ago. Then, I look at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), and realize that the greatest discoveries are yet to come, and are even within my lifetime.
For those unaware, I’ll start off with quantum physics (which we know to be true). The scale of things in quantum physics goes like this: an object is made of atoms. These atoms contain electrons orbiting a neucleus. This neucleus contains protons and neutrons. And (this is where quantum mechanics comes in), protons are made of smaller pieces called quarks. Without going into too much detail, there are six types of quarks, but we only need two of them to make up protons and neutrons. So, to make up everything we normally see, we only need two quarks and an electron. This sounds nice, but it leaves some mathematical gaps.
This is where string theory comes in. String theory says that these quarks are made up of tiny, vibrating bits of energy called strings. Now, when I say tiny, I mean MINISCULE. These strings are going to remain invisible to us for quite some time. Also, there’s another problem. In order for this to make sense, there needs to be not three or four dimensions, but eleven dimensions (one of time, three of space, and seven additional spatial dimensions). Assuming that all of this is true, the math works out beautifully, and everything seems to make sense. (continue reading…)