Monday, January 26, 2009

David Finkelstein on Physics

Saturday we had another Atlanta Science Tavern meetup (http://www.meetup.com/AtlantaScienceTavern), this time with Dr. David Finkelstein, Professor Emeritus of Physics at GA Tech.

His approach was to take questions from the audience of 45 people at Manuel's Tavern. His answers were very precise and well-described. I asked him if the wave-particle duality is an effect of our senses "taking a measurement" at a given moment in time. That is, are the measuring devices, in this case our eyes, or in other cases the photon sensing or exposure producing materials, simply "capturing" a slice of the waveform of light, and thus causing the illusion of a discrete photon.

It's been years since I've taken physics, so I don't recall all of these details, and probably never really understood them in the first place. Logically though, it just seems as if our senses are what "quantize" the wave and thus lead to our observation of a discrete entity called a photon.

I know I should be sleeping now, but it was a very interesting discussion. I wish I could study physics, and everything else in the world too.

1 comment:

"Kasranov" said...

No way -- that is too cool. I actually wrote to Dr. Finkelstein some months ago, based on his contribution to an obscure but excellent British documentary, on space and time. When I caught him, he was out white water rafting, or something. Glad to see he's out and about lecturing. Brilliant man.

Check this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XspTgnLDio