How wonderful it would be
to catch just a pinch of stardust
on a rooftop in Oslo, Paris or Berlin:
a handful of micrometeorites,
traces of ancient cosmic dust,
falling through the atmosphere,
merging with terrestrial grime and rust,
tiny flakes of matter from the start
of our Solar System – and wish on it.
Kim M. Russell, 2017
Image found on Pinterest
Björn tells us that he once read Physics and took a PhD many years ago. Although he hasn’t worked in physics, he has always had a passion for understanding how the world works, and how it connects to philosophy. He says that physics is always present in his writing, but he does understand that, for many of us, it brings back memories of less joyful moments at school.
Today’s episode is the beginning of a small series on different phenomena and what it might tell us about the world – with no equations, no maths, just fun – and we are looking into a microscope and considering Brownian Motion: the random motion of particles suspended in a fluid that can be observed through a microscope. It was first described by Robert Brown in 1827, while looking at pollen suspended in a solution. At that time, the science of atoms and molecules was just a wild theory and the movements he observed seemed random and unpredictable. In 1905 Albert Einstein came up with a comprehensive theory: that the reason was collision from the invisible molecules in the fluid and that the movement could be explained (if not predicted).
Björn finds it fascinating, how we can observe something for real that is caused by something we can only imagine, and says that he often finds the world random and erratic. He asks us to think about concepts like apparent randomness, motion and things we cannot see. Maybe we can imagine being puppeteered like pollen in a fluid, or we can just dance to randomness and see where we end up.