Silenced by a Particle

I once sat in an exam,
looking for the one right
answer, reluctant to accept
the duality of light.
How does light wave?
Should I wave back?
According to Einstein,
light is a continuous field
of waves, which makes me feel
wanted.  But then, it seems,
light travels away, leaves
as an electromagnetic wave,
divides, overlaps and disappears,
becomes a photon,
a wave collapsed into a point,
a full stop at the end of my sentence.

Kim M. Russell, 2017

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Physics with Björn: Particle-wave dualism and the photoelectric effect

Today Björn continues his excavations into physics and hopes that we conclude the NaPoWriMo successfully.

He tells us that, at the end of the nineteenth century, physicists believed that more or less everything was solved. Newton’s mechanics governed the law of particles and bodies, while optics could be explained through Maxwell’s theories of electromagnetism, and atomic theories were being developed. It seemed that we could explain everything under the sun (and even beyond).

But sometimes we find things that required new and updated theories. In 1905 Albert Einstein published a paper that later gave him the Nobel Prize in 1921. With his theoretical model he could explain the so called photoelectric effect, which showed up as electrons emitted when an electrode was illuminated. Einstein attributed particle properties to light, meaning Einstein could explain and set up equations for the photoelectric effect. The essence of this is the shapeshifting properties of matter: particle wave dualism.

Björn says the concept was later broadened so that particles can also be waves. Particles can be refracted just like they are waves, and we can attribute both wavelength and frequency to them, just like light can have momentum. So it goes both ways: a particle is a wave and a wave is a particle. In some cases we see particles governed by the laws of optics, and the next moment they are like little spheres.

Today, Björn would like us to use this shape shifting nature of nature on microscopic level for a poem.

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31 thoughts on “Silenced by a Particle

    1. Thanks Kerry! I always think I’ve understood a concept and then I’m completely dumbfounded when I find out that I got it wrong. I prefer to enjoy this weird life for what it is and leave physics to the scientists.

      Like

  1. This is wonderfully written, Kim 😀 your poem addresses the dilemma that is physics. Congratulations on making it through April 30/30 ❤️

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

    Liked by 2 people

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