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yesterday and today

(published 1 December 2010)


Man, it’s quiet here this morning. A hard frost has made the surface of the world white, and even the birds are audibly subdued because of the cold. The sky is that very pale mauvey grey type of luminous white that looks as if it is heavy with snow, but may just pass by without releasing its load. There is something about the colour that seems as if all the light is trapped up there in the cloud and is bouncing around in dancing forms, prismatic separations meeting to reform in new shades. Multiplexing and demultiplexing. Almost imperceptible hues of pink, yellow and green shimmer and retreat, embedded amongst the more obvious greys and blues. All that mobility and energy silently rolling around in the heavens.

My friend Sara will testify to my inability to accept the world in terms of polarities (I take great pleasure in regularly exuberantly discussing it with her!); to me everything could never be so flat. Black and white; hot and cold; male and female; wave and particle; how restrictive. So it is with that view that I am trying to make sense of the nature of light. I imagine that since many greater intellects than mine have long pondered the understanding of this intrangible character, with meticulous and rigorous scientific analysis as well as deep thought, that I am not going to find an easy answer any time soon. However, a little undaunted, I again set out on the voyage (which was what formerly led me to try to make head or tail of Feynman) – explorations into light.

And today.

December. A beautiful still and clear morning here, blue sky and sun. Much of the rest of the country white today, but here the edges of the world just shimmer with the pale grey of a hard frost. Quiet.
I spent a frustrating day yesterday trying to learn about quantum physics, trying to understand the models of waves, rays and photons, but found that each piece of writing that I read was built on foundations of words and concepts that I did not fully understand. Each book or article requiring study of another, more fundamental, one in order for it to be fully illuminating. I begin to wonder if there is actually a bottom to this search, or whether I shall find myself back at the most recent of papers on silicon photonics at the end of a circuit of attempted learning. A ring of resonating words and ideas that starts and ends within itself.

I think that for the moment I shall raise my head from the words and go to let my mind wander out in the world, go to look at some watery waves, and feel sunny photons on my face.

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