News: Jiangmin has decided to settle as a freelance writer and will be publishing only on an occasional basis from now on.
If you can still remember me from my long absence, then great! I can happily say that my Advanced Higher exams are done and dusted, and I very recently graduated from high school. This Autumn I’ll be starting an Integrated Masters degree in Theoretical Physics…somewhere, I’ll update you on that one in August.
As you may know, I took Advanced Higher Physics this year and around 30% of the qualification is made up of a research project which must be based on a topic of the course. For the previous qualifications, it was required to do your project on a pre-selected topic, which consequently took away the fun, because the topics selected were either classical mechanics or electricity, I.e. not modern physics. But with this? I thought, QUANTUM IT IS.
One of the most amazing things in the course is the de Broglie hypothesis of Quantum mechanics which I very quickly made my project title.
Some background on the de Broglie Hypothesis
In the 20s, the early stages of the construction of quantum theory, a physicist Louis de Broglie postulated the wave particle duality of nature suggesting that all matter had both wave and particle properties.
Particles and waves are very different things. Particles are localised – they are in one place at one time and therefore can have a precise position. Particles have mass, they can bounce off one another and transfer energy through collision. Waves, on the other hand, are delocalised – to assign a “position” to a wave doesn’t really make much sense, waves can carry energy without the net transfer of mass, capable of interference, diffraction, reflection and so on.
I have decided to submit an entry to this year’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge, which is a competition in which you have to make a 3-minute video explaining a scientific concept/idea to a general target audience. I chose the Black Hole Information Paradox as my topic because I was reading into the Holographic Principle over the summer and fell in deep haha.
The following is my video – I hope you like it and could give it a thumbs up on Youtube if that’s a possibility.
Black Holes seem like something that only exists in Science fiction, like Dark Matter and Energy, however, these astronomical objects are in fact at the heart of theoretical research within Cosmology. Research involving Black Holes may likely help us uncover more about the mysteries of Quantum Gravity, something Physicists believe to be the Theory of Everything.
In simple terms, a Black Holes is a region in which the gravitational influence is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull beyond the Event Horizon, which means that the Escape velocity is essentially greater than the speed of light. Escape velocity is the speed in which an object needs to travel at to escape a gravitational field, e.g. the Earth’s.
After the many ramblings I made regarding Dark Matter previously, I want to turn around and think about Baryonic Matter again. Ordinary Matter is something that physicists know much more about than the mysterious Dark Matter and Dark Energy, even though in reality they do make up more than 95% of our known Universe. We are more knowledgeable about Baryonic Matter because of its presence all around us, after all, it is everything we can see and detect: from forms of life, elements in the Earth’s crust and mantle, buildings, cars, the Earth, the Sun, all of the stars… you get the idea.
Now, the stuff that makes up the matter. Firstly what comes to our mind may be elements, which are a table of 100 odd substances that are often called the “primary constituents of matter”. These elements can be identified through their chemical properties and are placed in the Periodic table in order of increasing atomic number (the number of protons in its atom’s nucleus).
Atoms are another level down from the elements of the periodic table, which distinguishes different types of atoms. Atoms themselves is another study on its own. In the early 20th Century, Rutherford and a couple other physicists discovered an awful lot that directly correlates to our modern understanding of the atom through an experiment – firing alpha particles at a piece of gold leaf.
In the previous post I introduced the Many World’s hypothesis of Quantum Mechanics which is a possibility of parallel universe. Exploring possibilities of what types of parallel universes could exist may sound like science fiction however like time travel and teleportation, the idea of parallel universes is often the subject of mathematical and experimental investigation. In a recent episode of Star Talk, Michio Kaku mentioned the joy of trying to defy the impossible in his everyday job as a theoretical physicist.
The term parallel universes could seem vague and confusing to some. Exactly what is a parallel universe… Alternate timelines? An entire universe on its own outside the observable universe? Do parallel universes of all possible historical timelines exist? The matter is a little complicated. Physicists often use the words parallel universes to describe several different hypotheses of a number of possible universes outside our own combined to form something called the Multiverse. Hence the idea of parallel universes arises from the multiverse theory itself.
Having attended European Researchers’ Night (also known as Explorathon) in the Glasgow Science Centre, the extensive work of post-graduate researchers left me intrigued. Perhaps the most memorable was the talk with a Quantum Physicist about polarizationof photons. Tempted, I then asked him, “What is your favouriteinterpretation of Quantum Mechanics?” He replied, “This is a pretty debated topic among physicists but I have to go with Many Worlds. I’m a Many Worlds person.” The Many worlds version of Quantum physics is the second most popular interpretation after the standard Copenhagen. Many worlds, also known as parallel universes is probably deemed one of the most out of this world interpretations of Quantum Mechanics and is commonly used in science fiction. Many people are fascinated by the term parallel universes, maybe it’sthe appeal that alternative possible realitieswould exist and their lives turn out differently– though most don’t give it a second thought andjust dismiss it for a fantastical perception.