Sunday, August 31, 2008

Observed vs Un-observed

I was discussing the phenomenon of the double-slit experiment (see prior posts) with a very smart person, (my dad) and he explained it in this way...

When an electron is shot thorough the slit(s) 1 at a time and unobserved, it forms an interference pattern revealing that each individual electron, which is one of the quantum particles, has a probability of being anywhere in a region of space. When the experiment is done while observing the individual electron, it forms a point, like a normal macro-scale particle (e.g.: a dust mote). And yes, the act of observation does result in the resulting pattern change. The reason is that when it is observed, what is seen is the behavior in that particular instant, rather than the statistical distribution. The thing to remember is that any individual quantum particle, such as an electron, muon, quark or other subatomic particle, behaves in a quantum fashion all by itself. It acts as if it is spread out across a region of space, rather than as a point in space. By observing the electron, you determine its position exactly, and so you lose all information about its momentum (its probability distribution), so the interference pattern disappears. By not observing it, its probability distribution is preserved, but you can't determine its position exactly. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

So, in essense, what this means is that, in fact, until a particle is observed it's position is undeterminable, and it doesn't make sense even to ask the question of "where it is". "Where" does not exist until the object is observed and the probabity of it being in any position is removed, and it is then seen to be in one fixed position. I love this!!! That's great!!! I think that is really one of the coolest things I have ever heard. Until you see an object, it's everywhere, lots of the same one particle, in every and any possible position. Then you see it, and poof!!! Its position is determined based on physical, measureable factors. Is that not the coolest thing you've ever heard?!??! Or am I just a big geek? Well, even if I am a big geek, that's still right up there with the most amazing things I've contemplated. I would love to be able to catch a piece of matter in its pre-detection state. Can you picture it? Matter particles bouncing all over the place, not different matter particles, but the exact same particle in multiple locations! Not separable, not measureable as separate individual particles, but the same exact particle in more than one position!!

What are the implications of this, I wonder. What are the real world (for that is what we must live in) applications of this? If we could tap into this quantum state, would we be able to place ourselves in any location we would like? Is it like another dimension we just have not learned to recognize yet? Maybe our minds are blocked against the possibility of this other dimension, and if we are able to unlock that part of our mind, we could literally be like that guy in the movie Jumper, just think about a place and - zap! We're there! Boy, that would really put a crimp in the oil companies' bottom lines. For that reason alone I think it's worth thinking about!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

First week of class

Ok, I just finished posting my discussion board responses. Although I was briefly considering switching classes, I think I have changed my mind. It was pointed out to me that as most classes are full, I might not have a lot of luck anyway, so I think I'll just stick it out. I do actually like the material we are discussing. It is interesting stuff! I got to read Oscar Wilde's 'Salome', which I'd never read before. All of the characters in that play are pyschotic, so that was pretty cool. In the first 5 minutes you get the Young Syrian who kills himself out of nowhere when he hears Salome talking dirty to Jokanaan (John the Baptist) which was a fun way to start to the play. It's actually kind of funny. You have dialogue dialogue dialogue and then...."Young Syrian kills himself". And it just gets better from there. It's like an episode of..ummm...(insert over the top soap opera here, I don't watch any so I wouldn't know).

I just wish the class was a bit more organized. I'm a fairly linear person when it comes to work and I like my assignments and due dates spelled out clearly and in an orderly fashion. I guess I'm going to have be non-linear for this class. Think I'll try tetrahedron, that ought to do it!

I have to go, my son is asking for help with HIS homework, so I must close for now! 11th grade homework has got to be easier than mine! Good night blog!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


OMG, what a crazy week. All of my kids started school this week too, and it is now utter mayhem in my house. Everyone is scrambling to get themselves organized and into the school mode again, there's never enough food in the house for some reason and my cats have lost their minds and all think they're capable of launching themselves through the air like flying squirrels!

The auto accident gods have taken it upon themselves this week to make everyone in our 9 state region completely forget that they must actually be awake with their eyes open while operating a motor vehicle so my claim load has skyrocketed at work, and I was shouted at for 30 minutes at the end of the day today by a person who insisted it was my fault he couldn't find a body shop to fix his car before September!

On a positive note, my class has started and so far is quite interesting and I can already tell I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. We are discussing Salome at the moment, a character I never had any particular interest in before and I am discovering that her legend had a lot of depth. The actual person she was based on, well, who knows if she even existed beyond metaphor.

I have also been thinking more about quantum mechanics. Maybe you have heard of the double-slit test, in which particles of matter are hurled through two slits in a wall. When you shoot large pieces of matter through you get two lines on the surface beyond the slits. When you force waves through, you get multiple points where the the top of one wave meets the bottom of another wave and you get an interference pattern, stripes where matter hits and darkness where it didn't. But on the quantum level, if you shoot electrons through, which are extremely tiny matter particles, they act like waves and form an interference pattern even if you shoot only one piece through at a time, instead of like matter forming only two lines. The theory is that the electrons, when shot one at a time, somehow split, and go through both slits interfering with itself and forming that unique wave pattern. Tricky little buggers. But they also go through neither slit. And they also go through only one of the slits. And they also go through only the other slit. The clever mathemeticians have formulas for this. I don't understand them, I just understand that this is what the experiments have proved.

BUT - and here's the kicker, when you try to observe the phenomenon using a recording device to see which slit the matter actually goes through, it goes back to behaving like larger matter particles and only goes through one side or the other, forming only two lines, not an interference pattern as it did when it was unobserved. The very act of observing changed it's behavior. Now, what the heck!?!? What does it all MEAN?!?!?!? How can an electron know when it is being watched? Huh huh HUH??? HOW???

Spiritual people have speculated this proves the existence of a higher being. Ok. Sure, why not. But why would a higher being care whether electrons form an interference pattern or not? I don't buy it. Any higher being that would take an interest in that clearly has too much time on its hands and needs to find a day job. Of all the issues in the world to concern itself with, that, to me, would not be in the top 10.

Maybe we're missing the big picture (so to speak). Maybe we're too focused on the most visible issues of the day. Maybe instead of trying to solve world hunger and stop all abuse and end the wars we need to be focusing on the smaller things, like electron interfence patterns. Maybe by studying the little things and gaining an understanding of the miniscule, we will be able to then apply our knowledge to the big things and achieve world peace and individual enlightenment.

Ok, enough rambling! I do, in fact have homework to do. Heigh ho!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I have been researching the theory of ENTANGLEMENT. I love that word. This is the idea that everything, and everyone, is connected on a quantum level. There is a Wikipedia definition regarding entanglement...

Quantum entanglement is a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which the quantum states of two or more objects are linked together so that one object can no longer be adequately described without full mention of its counterpart — even though the individual objects may be spatially separated.

Simple, right? Basically, entanglement is the idea that all matter, at the sub-atomic level, is the same matter. There have been experiments done on particles, that proves that if you apply energy to one of a pair of particles, the effect occurs on both particles. This is true no matter how spatially separated the particles are.

So what does this mean to us? I believe that this means, quite literally, we are all connected to each other, no matter how separated we may be feeling. Obviously we are individuals with our own definite physical selves, and with very different opinions and ideas. But on a much deeper level, we are all the same. Sure, we will have have Sox fans vs Cub fans, and they'll say no way am I the same as that guy! Or you'll have people who are going to vote for McCain, and those that will vote for Obama, and it is certain they will argue there is nothing alike between them! But none of that matters. We are all part of the same material that has been around since the Big Bang.

Conversely, there is the idea that no object ever actually touches another object, hence we are more separate than anyone ever conceived. On a sub-atomic level, there is always space between atoms. On the most impossibly miniscule level, there is so much space between particles it might as well be the distance between stars. So how, one may ask, did I get that paint transfer on my bumper when I backed into my neighbor's car? Excellent question. I tried to explain to my neighbor that it didn't really exist, but he didn't buy it. Go figure.

Anyway, that is what has been on my mind lately. Thoughts anyone?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thank you Andy!

I appreciate your help, your advice worked like a charm, now you can (obviously) see the links at the bottom of my page - yet another thing I learned this week.

I took my daughter to the elementary school this evening to find out her teacher and class list. She's happy about her teacher, not so happy about some of the kids in her class. She doesn't like a few of them, so we went from joy over one name on the list to tears over another. I'm sure it'll all work itself out. I hope.

I keep signing into Blackboard hoping my class will have started early, I am such a nerd.

I think I'll go check out some of the other blogs, catch you later!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Ok all, I have a question. I added a "My Blog List" gadget at the bottom of my page, but I cannot get the links to show up unless I mouse over them. How can I get the links to show up all the time? I tried playing with the fonts and colors settings, but none of them seem to apply to that particular aspect of the page. Any advice would be appreciated!

What I learned today...

Today, I learned how to download and apply a blog skin. Now my blog is pretty! I had blog envy for jsgirl's attractive layout. Now, I too have style!

Countdown to class - da dum!! I cannot wait to start, and I am really happy this blog gives me something to work on in the evenings. I've been skimming my new textbooks and I really think this class will be interesting. I hope so anyway.

My 14 year old is sick, he has a really bad cold, poor thing. I hope he gets better soon, school starts for him a week from today, so he needs to get better asap! Isn't that always the way, the last week of summer vacation and you get a head cold. I took it a step further once, I missed the first 2 weeks of junior high because I had chicken pox. Ah well, I'm sure he'll be fine!

I am going to go now, I want to tweak my blog. Hmm, that sounds hinky. You know what I mean!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I met someone famous!

Well, I think he's famous. He's the son of a famous person, so I suppose that makes him famous. I met Walter Payton's son! I think his name is Jarrett. You will not believe where I met him. At my nail shop! I was sitting there getting a pedicure, and there is this large, good-looking man in the chair next to me. I thought that was unusual enough, and struck up a converstation. Come to find out, he is the son of Walter Payton! I took his picture, and hopefully I will be able to figure out how to upload it to this post. Anyway, that's the most exciting thing that happened to me today. The rest of the day was spent shopping for this party we're having tomorrow. It is an end of the summer, start of school for everyone party. My kids go back to school the last week of August, and of course we start soon ourselves. I got my books for my class recently, they all look great! I am taking ENG 360 Ancient Greek & Bible Motifs, which to me sounds fascinating. Well, I'm going to try to get this picture uploaded now, it's a really good photo! And he is just too cute.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New This Week!

Worked late tonight, got lots done. Yay me! The most exciting thing going on right now is getting my kids ready to start school. Two going into high school, one in elementary. What have I learned from this? I learned that while there are less required supplies for high schoolers, what they do need is way more expensive! That and trying to prepare my oldest to start applying to colleges himself. I'm afraid that this process might be overwhelming for both of us. I'm concerned that he is not sufficiently motivated to get his grades up enough and to take the steps necessary to get into a 4 year school. It's looking like it will be community college, which is not a bad thing. I got my AA from a community college and it was a good experience. Of course, I was 30 when I got it, so that's a little different than what I have in mind for my son. Well, we'll see how it goes I suppose.

One more week until our own classes start, I have all my books, my keyboard is in fighting shape and my tuition is up to date! Let's roll!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Here is my first blog. This is meant to be a "what I learned this week" sort of thing, but since classes are out for the summer, I have nothing much to input on that note.

I worked all day, as usual. I'm in insurance. I love my job, I handle auto claims all day, and there are so many different types of people, it's always a challenge trying to figure out how to work with them all. I like the work, it requires organization and attention to detail. Being the perfectionist about my work that I am, those things suit me just fine!

Went swimming with my daughter after work, it's a great way to unwind after having my butt stuck to a chair for 10 hours a day. I must say though, I was quite pleased to come home to Andy's email and instructions on how to create a blog, I feel like I'm slacking if I don't have something to do in the evenings.

I'm looking forward to reading the other UIS Online bloggers postings, and I hope I can think of more interesting things to say than I have so far.

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