The Other I

October 25, 2010

To be or maybe to be

Filed under: Intriguing Science — theotheri @ 8:14 pm

I’ve just been reading about the concepts of existence in science.  What it means to exist in our everyday world seems pretty clear.  Once we have reached the stage of a two-year-old, we realize that things continue to exist even if we can no longer see them, and unless something goes seriously wrong, we don’t tend to change that conviction.

I mean, just because I’ve dropped my contact lens on the floor and can’t find it, I don’t decide that the contact lens has actually gone out of existence.

But on the quantum level, what scientists mean by existence is radically different.  Things do go in and out of existence.

The Nobel prize for physics this year was awarded for the discovery of graphene, a form of carbon one layer thick.  What is so astonishing about it – at least for people who live in what up to now I would have called “the real world” – are its characteristics.

When graphene is placed in a magnetic field, it becomes a quasiparticle.  That means it behaves like an electronic or proton without actually being a particle at all.

I don’t pretend to understand this.

Scientists can actually demonstrate that something like this exists under the right circumstances.  But I find it even more astonishing that they think it has a whole host of practical applications for use in our modern world.  Just like electricity.  Whole entire systems on which we depend depend on particles that go in and out of existence.

Do people who really understand these things think they are as incredibly fantastic as I do?



  1. But then isn’t it the quasiparticles that are in existence still? I assume there are at least two existences, the physical and the metaphysical?

    I’ve been thinking – from I don’t know where – that because there is nothing that physically separates us from each other (we all touch ground on the same planet), that we are all connected. The fun thought I’ve been playing with recently is that we are organically one.

    So I’m thinking, oh great, now how do we hold on to each other if elements are going in and out of existence. Just kidding.


    Comment by jooliedee — November 4, 2010 @ 6:27 am | Reply

    • It is a delight to read your comments – both of them. Especially, in a strange kind of way, as our thoughts are somehow stumbling toward the same conclusions. I don’t have a coherent scientific theory to back it up either, but I too feel we are all connected. Not just that we influence each other, but that in some way we are organically one. When we attack each other we are, ironically, attacking ourselves. When we benefit others, we benefit ourselves.

      This sounds dangerously like religious preaching that I hope I have thoroughly abandoned. My convictions don’t arise from Christian teaching, but interestingly from science and the incredible world it keeps suggesting is out there.

      Though what we’re going to do with the particles that keep going in and out of existence I have not yet decided. Lock them in a closet until they decide to behave in the more appropriate manner expected of them?

      Seriously, it’s great to hear from you. Thank you.


      Comment by theotheri — November 4, 2010 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

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