January 22, 2011

My Daughter, The Theoretical Physicist

There is a key concept in quantum physics known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. In very simple terms, it means that you can never know both the position and velocity of a particle because as soon as you have measured one, you have, by your observation and measurements, altered the other. You can know one with precision, but not both.

This idea only applies to subatomic particles and there is a huge push in physics to find a way to connect it with larger systems that are ruled by gravity. This unified theory which was what Einstein was striving for near the end of his life, has a few controversial concepts already developed in M-theory and string theory, but these are hotly contested in the physics community. If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't feel bad. I don't really know either.

Dr. Harper Aion, PhD., however, has managed to apply quantum theory to larger objects. After being placed down for a nap for a prolonged period of time, it is uncertain as to whether or not she is still asleep, or awake in her crib playing with her toys and talking to herself. In theory, she will continue to sleep indefinitely in this uncertain quantum state, with the probability of wakefulness increasing as time passes.


Then, she is observed. By my wife. Who just wants to check on her. As with subatomic particles, this intervention by an observer modifies the state of the observed. If we were discussing Schroedinger's Cat, we would say the the observation would force the particle (Harper) to a determined state, either awake or asleep, with equal probability.

However, in this particular universe, the modification on the observed by the observers forces her, always, into one determined state. That state is awake and crying.

I'm not sure how many concussions my wife has suffered as a result of my tackling her to the ground before she can poke her head in and observe the Harpers-Boson. Yesterday morning, I was not paying attention and so, at 5 am, Sara poked her head in to make sure the baby was ok.

She was.

Until she was observed.

Since it was Sara's own fault, I only felt a quantum amount of guilt about leaving for work.


Bryan G said...

I enjoyed nerding out reading this post.

Also, my super-speed character on DC Universe Online is, ironically, named Mr. Heisenberg. You know, because you can't know his speed and position simultaneously.

Laura said...

Best kind of post--I get a little smarter and I get a great belly laugh too. :-)

Justin said...

I hope that I haven't butchered the work of minds smarter than myself. I'm a huge fan of nerd humor.

Mom said...

I've observed that particular phenomenon, the last time being when you were on your way out for the evening and the east coast grandmoms were sitting. It enabled us to not miss a single moment of pleasure with her because she was lazily logging time.



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