[What’s changed in the last ~100 years] A recent Scientific American article reminded me that quantum spin underlies the stability of matter – without which there’d be no life. But the article prompted another dive into the “mathematical machinery” describing the quantum state of a single electron or a single photon. The Stern–Gerlach experiment established… Continue reading Quantum superposition and spinors – a saga of electrons
[Draft] Why is everyday matter so stable? We take it for granted that the lifetime of (non-radioactive) atoms is billions of years. Same for the protons and neutrons in their nuclei (barring a high-energy interaction). Unlike protons, lifetimes are not the same for bound and unbound “free” neutrons. Beta decay. Sticking around for billions of… Continue reading Particle lifetimes – live forever or die quickly?
[Communicating science series] This is a concept often espoused by science popularizers over the decades. Even the background for plot vouchers in some sci-fi adventures. An amazing fact: We and everyday objects around us are mostly empty space! So, miniaturize matter. Fantastic Voyage! Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Downsizing. That’s why superman could walk through… Continue reading Our friend the atom, mostly empty space?
[“Models of the quantum vacuum” series] I read this article today “‘The Unknown Question’ — The End of Spacetime” (June 22, 2019) and watched the included YouTube videos. Something bothered me which I’ve been thinking about for years, namely, that even theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed sounded like he viewed the electron as like a spherical… Continue reading Swaying quantum vacuum energy vs compelling charge