Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Unitary Electron Theory

OK, so I just find this amusing. I'm not even sure why I haven't been aware of it before, but there is apparently this still-not-yet-ruled-out approach to quantum physical understandings which goes by the name of the "single electron hypothesis", attributable, of course, to none other than Richard Feynman.

I also learned that Feynman, a pretty notorious womanizer, did some of his womanizing right in my hometown of Buffalo, which is a funny thing to be proud of, but there you go. I guess we can be skeazy right up there with the best of them.

The idea is simple enough; that since subatomic particles not only don't really have any certain position, being only probability waves before these get collapsed by perception, they also can't be distinguished one from the other. So why not call them all-one? I guess that's yet another distinction without any difference.

There are distinctions to be made between particles which can share the same quantum state (bosons) and those which can't (fermions) and electrons are apparently in the more garden-variety category of particles which can't, which makes them a little bit more distinguished than the bosons, and which is why that final pesky boson - the Higgs - is so difficult to pin down.

At really really low temperatures, lots of quantum states get all mixed up, and you have this Bose-Einstein condensate, which is just what you'd think it is, a kind of undifferentiated mass, or really non-mass, of unparticular particles. But electrons can't merge completely with one another's probability "space" and so you have all these powerful attractions and repulsions and the jumpings around from state to state which emit all those powerful electromagnetic photons, only one of which is required for you and I to take notice.

Which is pretty darned cool, if you ask me.  We tried it once in a physics lab turned into a cave, and it's really true. A single solitary photon makes an impression on your eyeball.

Just imagine what whole armies of them could do! All one and aligned in the same direction. Well, OK, they'd just burn your eyeballs out, which is why they get so serious about playing with laser pointers around airports. Although you can play with them around cats, which is wicked fun.

But I do resemble that remark about men, for instance, all being womanizers. I said resent, right?  I resent that remark. I mean, why would I want the same thing from the same body the same way all the time? Wait, I'm getting myself all mixed up again, like John Denver did who seemed like such a nice guy, but then went and compared women to wine and why would you only want one kind?

Well, he also thought he could fly in the end, and look where that got him, right? Oh, I know I shouldn't joke about that stuff, but I don't think he was the same boyish person we all thought he should be, palling around with George Burns playing God and all.

Yeah, sure, we're all the same underneath, and I actually do know that if someone introduces you as a physicist you can almost certainly get laid. Unless you lose your nerve, which I know for a fact I almost certainly would, which is maybe simply because I'm not really a physicist, although I do have something to teach physicists, and it's actually about physics, and not about love or anything like that, which I'm pretty sure they know all about already.

Oh hell, it really is about love. I lied. But it's about physics too, which I for one find pretty funny. Cosmic joke funny. Ultimate laugh on the way out funny. (I promised myself I would laugh on the way out, and figure if I keep saying it over and over I might remember actually to do it).

So the thing is, just like a cheesy movie, if you treat any woman as if she's the same as all women, then all you end up with is transactional sex, which I'll just take Feynman's word is pretty darned good, since I wouldn't really know. Being a geek and all. And broke. Way broke - you don't even want to know.

But the happy endings are all reserved for the ones who hold out for the real thing, and don't fall prey to fantasy and projection and the momentary glory of that singular state of youthful perfection which gets you married and miserable in the end.

Have you ever noticed how it's the cold-cut parish hall reception weddings which seem to last? The Hollywood style celebrations are always a kind of march to doom, don't you think. I mean, I should know . . .

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