Friday, May 1, 2009

A Good Daily Practice for You

My promised upcoming post is being vetted by a couple of friends. While it goes through the editing process, I offer you this little maxim.

I think it is a good idea every day (when practical) to try to read something that you don't understand at all (here was today's attempt). It keeps the mind working.

Of course, some of you will remind me that I also have a regular habit of writing things that I don't understand at all. ;-)


Dave Miller said...

I was going to comment that this is why I read this site, but you ruined the joke.

Bob Cleveland said...

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit I pretty well understood the article, but I do understand the principal you espoused. I keep an old set of instructions for assembling one of those assemble-it-yourself desks, for just that purpose.

And yes, I assembled it without the instructions. Made a pretty good shower stall until it fell apart.

r. grannemann said...

I'm an engineer with an interest in these things so I'll contribute my take on it:

The puzzle Einstein solved was why more light intensity directed on a material didn't necessarily lead to more electron emission. If light is a particle, then it is not the collective amount of energy that matters, but the energy an individual photon that needs to be large to kick an electron out of the material (since according to Einstein's explanation a single photon is acting on a single electron to cause emission). Therefore lots of low energy photons can't cause electron emission (i.e. high light intensity is lots of photons and lots of energy but it is the energy of the individual photon that matters). Explaining this and how the energy of an individual photon is related to its frequency (or color) is what got Einstein the Nobel Prize.

The guys in the paper have just shown a related case where light intensity does matter. The high intensity light (x-rays) acting in concert like a wave allows many photons to hit a single atom all at once. It appears that at least a couple photons have to use their energy in concert to eject an electron (since they needed the energy of 50 photons to eject just 21 inner orbit electrons).

Einstein showed an effect that required light to behave as a particle. The guys in the paper show a related effect that requires light to behave like a wave. Quantum theory harmonizes these two behaviors of light.

Bart Barber said...

Thanks to all for schooling me.

Of course, the point was not so much that I need to brush up on my Quantum Physics (I surrendered long ago to the fact that we are all doomed to be ignorant about at least a few things), but to speak to the intellectual importance of stretching yourself.

Bob Cleveland said...

On the serious side, that's one reason I do read blogs, including ones with spiritual stuff I have trouble understanding.

When I was about 8 or 9 or 10, I played ping-pong with dad. He never let me win. He said I'd get better as long as I played with guys who could beat me. And, sonofagun, I did.

I think the same things happens spiritually.

Yes, it was a good post. And a great idea.

Aw .. come ON now ... I'm SEVENTY and the word verification is "ZIATICA"?

Too close for comfort, pal.....