Tag Archives: quantum physics

Homework Takeaway: There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…

I finished reading The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene, a week or so ago, and meant to post about that with some summary thoughts. Instead, I reached the end the week of the discovery of the Higgs-Boson, and suddenly the last few pages were no longer conjecture, they were likely fact.

It’s amazing how easy it is to take something seriously once it’s been proven.

At the beginning of the year, I joked on Twitter that if The Elegant Universe was my homework, well, I was an Honors Student and I’d be doing some extra credit, as well. So I’ve started reading The Fabric of the Cosmos.

Already, I’m struck by the change in Greene’s tone – or the change in the tone of the tenor of my reading of it, perhaps? The writing has a deep narrative quality. Greene wrote this before the discovery of the Higgs-Boson, so maybe the tone is due to the increasingly advanced matter of its subject? Past a point, science and art follow many of the same intuitions.

I’m glad to have read The Elegant Universe, as frustrating as I found some of its metaphors, because I’m now confident with how Greene may intend to lay out this new story. Having ended The Elegant Universe with discussion of of temperature transference theory at the time of the Big Bang, Greene is now talking about basic physics experiments again.

Issac Newton’s bucket. Concave and convex surfaces.

Which has brought the song behind the lyrics of this post’s title to mind.

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza; a hole. 

The Music of the Spheres

The Higgs-Boson particle got discovered last week, after its existence was theorized half a century ago. Also known as the “God Particle,” Higgs-Boson is basically the thing that proves that our current model of physics works.

CUE SUPERGEEK SQUEE.

“A Higgs-Boson particle walks into a church and says, ‘You can’t have mass without me.”
“HIGGS-BOSON PARTICLES WILL NEVER GET OLD.”
“No, but they’ll decay within 4 muons…”
“SCHISM IN THE CHURCH OF HIGGS & BOSON!”
“Thank Higgs-Boson it’s Friday!” and so on.

But this morning I realized the epitome of “Writing geeky jokes about the Higgs-Boson,” and I don’t know if I can pull it off, because I think it might require actual knowledge of science.

I want lyrics to a CERN/LHC/Higgs-Boson cover of U2’s “Mysterious Ways.”

Somebody get on that.

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Homework Takeaway #4: Uncertainties in Time, Space and Relationships

I’m still chipping away at Elegant Universe, and have just finished watching Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen – the version starring Daniel Craig as Werner Heisenberg and Stephen Rea as Neils Bohr. So now there are a few threads going though my mind. Copenhagen is an illustration of how the uncertainty principle and physics can map themselves onto individual relationships; this is illustrated well in the moment where Frayn writes Bohr and Heisenberg and Bohr’s wife Margrethe, as they race around a room demonstrating the difficulties of observing an racing beam of light.

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