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Friday, 28 October 2016


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Well Duffers I am sure yoyu're not alone. I can just about cope with Special Relativity, and with General as far as the concept goes - there are useful didactic models such as the ball bearings circling one another on a rubber sheet which simulates in two dimensions the effect of massive objects on spacetime.

However quantum physics is just silly, counter intuitive nonsense (of course mathematically rigorous). I have a suspicion that as far as this small stuff is concerned we are (or rather they are, because I'm certainly not) roughly where they were in 1904 just before Einsteins bombshell (perhaps an unfortunate choice of word in view of subsequent developments) ie the shortcomings of existing theories is becoming clear but no onw has come up with an elegant or convincing new paradigm.

It will come I am certain, after which there will be more, deeper mysteries.

Amazing stuff really.

Mind you even maths, at the extreme, is a bit stupid, so perhaps incomprehensibility really is where it's at.

Where is SoD when you need him!

I've got a copy of Einstein's 'Relativity: The Special and the General Theory' which is subtitled "A simple explanation that anyone can understand". Unfortunately, I'm only "anyone" to a point, and continue to occasionally re-read some chapters trying to get the ideas. The only moment of insight that put everything in a new perspective was the realization that we are moving through time at the speed of light. Everyone here probably already knows that relativistic effects are a consideration in everyday life when we use GPS.

String theory is suspect to some theoretical physicists because it explains too many things too "easily", which is also hard on self-esteem. One of the more interesting aspects is that the universe might be thought of as a hologram:

Quantum mechanics is completely non-intuitive, but also now a consideration in everyday life. When I was an electrical engineer I had the honor of working with some physicists on the theoretical limits of structures in semiconductor crystalline materials like silicon. When an extremely small hole, in the range of 2-9 microns depending on the exact material, is milled it will sometimes "heal"; that is, close up on its own due to atomic tensions on the crystal lattice. Strange stuff, but real and observable with a field emission microscope.

Guess there aren't any semiconductor physicists in the crowd. I was off by an order of magnitude. It should be .2-.9 microns. Probably should have mentioned solid state lasers as everyday quantum devices too.

I love physics, especially ballistics, where you know that given the lovely splodey stuff that is in behind the shell that goes in the breach is constant in its delivery of energy. Crank the long tube thingy up to a given angle and voila the shell lands a given distance away where the next lot of splodey stuff does its work as intended.

Must have been a lovely chap that Albert but spent way too much time indoors.

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