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January 8, 2023

Shadow of an Atom

For as long as I can remember I've thought about how it's possible for our "real" world to exist when at bottom there's nothing there but matter waves that collapse into particles when we observe them.

This video, made some ten years ago, displays the shadow of an atom that's been manipulated by lasers and extreme cooling and whatnot so as to create an image.

You don't see the atom but rather the dark spot in the center is what's visible when light bypasses the atom to create the concentric circular diffraction pattern.

When it's not being photographed the atom reverts to its wave function, a cloud of possible locations but no fixed address, as it were.

Sometime around 2200-2300 physics will explain this mystery; of course, there will then be an even greater one left for the more distant future.


January 8, 2023 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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