Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Q is for Quantum Physics

A to Z Challenge

YOU could tell me protons were made from the compressed excrement of a guppy fish and Higgs Boson was somebody working on a boat and I wouldn't know any better. So I'm sorry to anyone who happened across this post because they wanted to know more about quantum physics.

What I know about quantum physics could  be written on the tip of a quark which is, the internet tells me, "any of a number of subatomic particles carrying a fractional electric charge, postulated as building blocks of the hadrons". They lost me at "subatomic".

And what is going on in that Large Hadron Collider thingy in Switzerland? Not a clue. The only media report I took any interest in was the caption on the BBC website. I sniggered like a teenage boy.

I have a nephew who tries to explain very basic science to me. I can't get my head around infinity or parallel universes or my hands around Schrodinger's Cat which is in a box and is both alive and dead at the same time. It's only when you open the box that it is one or the other (head hurting). I nod in what I hope are the right places. Which reminds me, I wrote about Schrodinger's Cat on my other blog last year. My very erudite explanation is here.  I will just repeat what author Terry Pratchett said. He wrote that there was a third possible state for the cat in the box and that was "bloody furious".

My only consolation is that I'm not the only one. Far bigger brains than mine have grappled with quantum physics and failed to understand it. In 1996 physics professor Alan Sokal sent an article called Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity to an academic journal called Social Text. It was a hoax. He'd written it to test the journal's intellectual rigour and to see if the journal would publish an article full of nonsense if it sounded good and it flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions. They did publish it and it caused an almighty hoo-ha.

So, if you have any questions about quantum physics, please direct at anyone other than me.


Darla M Sands said...

I totally know what you mean. My partner watched a lot of astrophysical theory stuff on TV yesterday. I turned on my Kindle Fire and played Freecell. ~grin~ And when someone grew excited about someday combining the elements that may have started the Big Bang, all I could do was say, "Is that really a good idea?"
Awakening Dreams and Conquering Nightmares with a Pen
Have a lovely day!

Kathleen Valentine said...

Years ago I worked in an engineering research and development firm where there were a lot of physicists. They would explain these things to me with such clarity that I really understood them but then--like learning a language you never get to use--it would just disappear from my brain.

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John Holton said...

I hear about things like this and am convinced there are just some things that I am not intended to know. But I did giggle at the name...

John Holton
Blogging from A to Z Challenge Co-Host
The Sound of One Hand Typing

Jo said...

Duuh, I just read it like it was meant to be not as it is. I did kind of understand about the Higgs Boson at the time. I read so much science fiction which is written by scientists (Isaac Asimov and Catherine Asaro) plus for 10 years I was married to a physicist. It all helps.

JEN Garrett said...

Um, you might not want to read today's recommendation on my blog.. The ABC book I chose for Q was a science one. :)