Posted tagged ‘photons’

Episode 3: Ted makes the call (superposition of states and Schrödinger´s cat)

April 13, 2010


So far, Ted´s attempts to find himself a date have led us through the ideas of probability and that light comes in individual lumps known as photons. We left him as he was about to make a call to a girl he had met the night before…

Having finally worked up the courage following his lighting-related procrastination, Ted decided it was time to bite the bullet and make a call to the girl he had met the night before. He knows that confidence is everything, but still it takes him a good fifteen minutes or so of sitting with his phone in hand, thumb hovering over the small green dial button.

He can feel the adrenaline rising with his heart rate, and for some reason his bladder feels much more full than it actually is. He went to empty it anyway, then went back to the phone, took a deep breath, and pressed dial… (more…)

The Quantum Disco: Episode 2

April 1, 2010


Last time, physicist Ted head out to find himself a date, by chatting to girls in a bar, handily illustrating something about probability… Essentially any one event has an unpredictable outcome, but quantum events, ruled by probability, become predictable when enough are taken into account. Quantum physics, like trying to get a date, is non-deterministic!

In spite of his best efforts, Ted returned home alone that evening, reeking of booze and cigarette smoke from dense atmosphere of the bar. He does, however, have a phone number scrawled on a piece of bar mat, which now feels like it’s burning a hole in his pocket.

He starts to think ahead, what will he say when he calls? He doesn’t want to appear too keen, but at the same time has to make some kind of approach to have any kind of a shot. Although he tells himself that failure doesn’t matter, his mind starts to race ahead to the endless possibilities. (more…)

The Quantum Disco, Episode 1

March 30, 2010


Last week, in a comment on this blog, Marty Walpole challenged me to explain what quantum physics is in layman’s terms. Well I’m not one to let a challenge like that pass, so here goes… It’s going to take several posts…

Ted is a young quantum physicist, but he’s also single and determined to do something about it. He’s heard that there’s a good place to meet girls in the city, so he cranks up some Stevie Wonder on the stereo to get himself in a funked up party mood, and gets ready to head out.

As he sits on the subway, foot tapping to the beats of Superstition still in his head, Ted catches his reflection in the window. It’s dark in the tunnel, so it works pretty well as a mirror, reflecting the light from inside the carriage. Sometimes, Ted might think about the physics behind that, why some light passes through the window but some is reflected, but he’s preoccupied with more Darwinian thoughts for now so just checks himself out one last time before his stop. (more…)


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