A Molecular Level of Approach

What if you could visit a place where the quantum laws are obvious? Where people and objects behave like tiny atoms and particles?”

Quantum Leap: The Fabric of the Cosmos explains the reality from a molecular level. To make a better sense of this, let me share to you some insights I gained. So Quantum Mechanics tells us that electrons don’t like to be tied down to just one location or follow just one path. One might even bump through another. Niels Bohr explained that when an atom is heated, electron at ground state becomes agitated that it leaps. With electrostatic force, the electron is pulled back to its first orbital emitting light at specific colors. These spectral lines are the energy given off by electrons leaping between an atom’s orbitals. But electrons goes directly from one orbital to another without moving through the space in between. Bohr believed that the energy of electrons and atoms comes in discrete values called “quanta”. Moreover, electrons sometimes act like particles and sometimes act like waves. This is what the double slit experiment shows. When shot through two narrow slits at a detector, some electrons go straight through (as a particle would) and others exhibit an interference pattern (as a wave would). The pattern formed led us to Max Born’s saying that “electrons are a probability wave”.

Another important concept in the movie is Quantum Entanglement. Entanglement occurs when a pair of subatomic particles interact physically and then become separated. But entangled particles are linked across space. Measuring one instantly affects its distant partner, as if the space between them didn’t exist.

The Quantum Mechanics though debunked and criticized by some such as the famous Albert Einstein, has always been right and used for more than 75 years to predict how atoms and tiny particles behave.

Quantum Leap: The Fabric of the Cosmos is the movie that left me thinking. It wasn’t like any of those movies with happy or sad endings; where a Princess gets to finally meet his Prince charming or where a hero faces death in the end. I must admit that I am not 100% sure as to what extent my understanding of Quantum Mechanics is correct. But it is when things are uncertain that we hope and bring ourselves even closer to fully understanding things. And I believe that this is what makes theories persist. No matter how consistently true Quantum Mechanics has proven to be, scientists are still struggling to figure out completely the rules of the quantum world. What we thought we knew about our universe is wrong and this opens us up to new possibilities, taking us beyond the celestial and macroscopic level.

A Speck of Insight

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At some point in my life, I have asked questions about the origins and purpose of life, the planet Earth, and the universe itself. And I believe that I am not alone in this quest. I believe that most of us, if not all, have undergone the same philosophical questions in life. But all our efforts are used to put up the pieces of an infinite puzzle in place. No amount of research would be able to provide a definite and conclusive answer. We do, however, have theories that attempts to explain the creation of all existence, the most popular of which is the Big Bang Theory.

Back when I was in grade 9, I remember memorizing the periodic table of elements and learning laboratory tools and equipment first before going into the deeper concepts of Chemistry. Back when I was in grade 10, I recall defining terminologies such as work, power, acceleration, mass, etc. first before taking up complex topics in Physics. For grade 11, we are taking up Physical Science. We first watched a movie entitled “The History of the World in Two Hours.” It is intriguing to start with the subject about the Big Bang Theory. It is intriguing because it tells us that before everyone and everything else in the universe, there was nothing but darkness. So allow me to share to you what I already know about the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is a theory that lays the origins and foundations of the universe. It all started 13.7 billion years ago when a tremendous explosion, rather termed as expansion, occurred from a tiny bundle of energy smaller than an atom in our infant universe. All the energy that ever exists or will ever exist was created by then.

380,000 years later, the first atoms emerged. Hydrogen was the first element formed and it is used by the universe to make everything in the world around us.

300 million years after the big bang, gravity continuously squeeze together clouds of gas and dust causing great pressure and heat. When temperature reaches 18 million degrees Fahrenheit, Hydrogen atoms clash to form new energy, stars, and the element Helium.

Aside from light, stars manufacture elements such as 25 of the most common elements we need to live with including Carbon, Oxygen, Iron, and Nitrogen. Some heavier elements like Uranium, Gold, and Copper were created by Supernovas which are stars that exploded. As stars explode and are reborn over the next 8 billion years, enough materials were gathered to create the sun as well as gravity to build the planets. And that is how Earth came to be. However, Earth at its primitive stage was chaotic. It was a world that spins so rapidly that a day lasts for only 6 hours. Its surface was made up of rafts of black volcanic rocks and molten lava, with elements jumbled within.  Gravity puts order to the chaos. Lighter materials drift toward the surface and form a solid crust, while heavier materials sink toward the center forming a molten iron nickel core. This churning liquid metal is responsible for the formation of the Earth’s magnetic field which stretches out into space, protecting our planet from the sun’s harmful radiation.

4.4 billion years ago, Earth was too hot for liquid water to exist, but water vapor steamed in the atmosphere existed. As the Earth cooled down for millions of years, rain poured down which created puddles, lakes, and eventually the ocean.

Oxygen plays important roles in our planet. But it is first important to know that bacteria, by consuming the sun’s energy, forms oxygen. It is also important to know that Earth’s ancient seas are full of iron particles. And so, oxygen fuses with iron which creates rusted iron. This drove the industrial revolution today because these deposits are major sources of iron and steel. However, once there is no more iron in the sea to rust, bacteria will produce a lot of oxygen to the extent that it fills the ocean and escapes into the atmosphere. From then on Earth became a different planet, one like a home to us. Oxygen provided us with an ozone layer to further protect us from harmful rays of the sun, skies and the oceans became blue, lands appeared, and major animal groups evolved.

The History of the World in Two Hours explains the Big Bang Theory – everything and everyone in the universe and on Earth originated from stardust. Almost every element present was formed through the supernovas. And these elements are necessary for our living. Without the occurrence of the supernovas, we wouldn’t have iron in our blood as well as oxygen and carbon to breathe in and out.  Without some of the elements, we wouldn’t have the nutrients that we need. Furthermore, elements which are created by the supernovas allowed for the building of cities and some of mankind’s monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.

Lastly, I have inferred from the film that energy since the beginning of time is conserved for the Big Bang Theory created all the energy that powers the stars which created the elements that we make use today. The formation of the oceans 4.4 billion years ago is an example of how energy is conserved. It goes on a water cycle, just like how it was presented in the film: from water vapor to rain, and then to the bodies of water. All the energy that exists and will ever exist was created by the Big Bang, and in order for creatures to survive they need to grab their share in this energy which is mostly given to us by the sun.

What I already know about the Big Bang is just a speck of insight to the infinite number of ideas that lie around. I must keep my mind expanding and have it radiate unto others. And though our questions and answers won’t lead us to a 100% certainty about the creation of all existence, these are the kinds of pursuit that endure. And that is actually what makes life beautiful – it is and will always be a mystery.  But as star dusts, we have to make use of our energy because the world would be a darker place without it.

 

 

Novelized

Novelized

As literature flourishes, literary theorists have become more vigorous and their studies more rigorous. One example is Mikhail Bakhtin and his essay comparing epics and novels.

Epic is the crowning glory of poetry, most especially during the ancient times. It is a long poem with a heroic focus narrating divine interventions, deeds, and adventures of legendary figures. Common to an epic’s themes is idealism and romanticism. The Iliad composed and written down by Homer sometime between 800-675 B.C. tells us the story of the final year of the Trojan War, a conflict between the Greek hero Achilles and the Trojan hero Hector. The epic involves divine interventions of the Greek gods and goddesses as well as the love of Menelaos and Paris for Helen, whose face that launched a thousand ships.

However, we have moved past the epic era shifting today’s written works to novels. Ever since its rise in the Renaissance, we have become novelized. Novels, just like epics, are capable of elaboration in prose style. But what makes them different is that novels have the ability to engage with the contemporaries and showcase the contemporary reality. Most themes used in novels are realism and modernism. 1984 written by George Orwell during the onset of the Cold War is an example of a novel. It tells us the story of Winston Smith as he struggle and rebel against the tyrannies of the Big Brother in a dystopian society. The novel in 2005, was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923-2005 and in 2003, it was listed at number 8 on BBC’s survey The Big Read. 1984, as a novel, is what is being referred to Mikhail Bakhtin’s “discourse of a contemporary, about a contemporary addressed to contemporaries”. Although reflecting the wars, omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation in the society of George Orwell’s time, it is applicable for any contemporaries because it teaches us that dystopian societies are never ideal and in fact, 1984 somehow parallels to the modern world.

Lastly, novels concerns about the present time, thus, it is the means for literary expression in the modern world. Instead of heroes with special powers, the novel features people faced with conflicts; transforming classical heroic journeys into stories of individuals journeying into discovery or self-actualization in the modern world.