I had so much fun with The Quantum Mind. But before I start babbling math and science at everyone, I’ll take a moment to thank everyone who reviewed me. You guys really helped out while I was wrangling my brain looking for a smart way to tie up the loose ends.
So now I get to have my fun. I realize that not everyone acts like a fifty-year-old physicist and listens to NPR. And sorry to everyone whose questions were left unanswered. I actually planned on writing this, so I decided to be a jerk and not explain all of my math and science references.
I’ll start with Chapter 1. I set the date using the Lyrid meteor shower, which always in late April. I received a comment about what happens after a meteor after entering earth’s atmosphere, but I was unable to confirm whether a meteor would stop emitting light once it got close enough to earth’s surface. I can, however explain the science behind meteorites and let you decide for yourself. When a meteor enters earth’s atmosphere, it is traveling incredibly fast. After all, the vacuum of space has no friction to slow it down. At these speeds, air is compressed in front of the meteor. In gases, pressure creates heat, so all the heat results in the air, and sometimes the meteor, catching on fire. I suppose that as air friction slowed the meteor down, pressure would lessen and the flame would die, but it all depends on the meteor’s shape and speed.
Now for chapter 2. In this chapter, we see Yvette discussing base eight with Mr. Wills. Now, among all the topics I was asked about, this was actually the one people were most confused about. And I know why: no one ever talks about number systems these days. Unless you write computer code, which I doubt. So instead of talking about base eight, I’ll talk about two number systems we’re all far more familiar with: Base ten and base two.
We normally count in base ten. It has ten digits, zero, one, two, three, and so on until you get to nine. After that, you stick a one in front of the zero and start counting again. We add a new digit every time we max out the number of nines in the number (everything is in powers of ten!). After 99 is 100, and after 999 is 1000. So with base two, which is better known as binary, we count like so: 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101… Notice that 2 is 10, and 4 is 100. This correlates to base ten in what way? Well, in base ten, we add a new digit with every power or ten, and with base two, we add a new digit with every power of two. So with base eight, which is the number system Yvettel uses on her home planet, there’ll be eight digits, zero through seven, and every power of 8 gets a new digit. (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11 and so on)
Goodness, that’s always a draining subject. Bet you didn’t expect so much math on a literary website! Next are chapters 4 and 5, during which Noel has had her dopamine production altered by Theo. Now, dopamine is actually a chemical produced by dopamine neurons when they activate. Dopamine neurons activate when something unexpectedly good happens. In our culture, we typically think of the drugs that activate these neurons (part of why some drugs are addictive), but normal things like ice cream can also activate dopamine neurons. When one thing repeatedly activates dopamine neurons, it begins to lose its effect. For example: if I eat some ice cream right now, I’ll get a sort of high from the dopamine being produced. But if I continue eating ice cream everyday, the ‘high’ I get from it is lessened until ice cream is no longer considered ‘unexpectedly good’. In the case of the book though, it was just Theo subconsciously messing with Noel’s dopamine production in order to make sure she stayed happy.
In chapter 6, we have our first encounter with the effects of the quantum device on the bystanders. Carrie and Lillian are both shown to be colder physically than normal because the quantum particles that Theo got into them had to adjust a few things in order to stay around. Quantum particles require temperatures very close to absolute zero, around a point where atoms reach the Bose-Einstein condensate. In this state of matter, atoms are so close together that their electron shells can overlap-something that is normally impossible. And in this strange state of matter, atoms can also be in two places at once.
Quantum physics is a pain though, and not only encompasses weird state phenomena from the uber-cold side of things, but also what happens when we go beyond atoms and look at electrons and other subatomic particles. Electrons specifically, are capable of the immediate transportation that Yvette mentions. Inside an atom, there are multiple electron shells (But not in Hydrogen or Helium). Depending on how much energy an electron has, it will appear in a different shell. It is actually the falling of electrons between shells that makes Neon and the other noble gases glow when an electric current is run through them. This works for other elements as well, but the noble gases are the best example.
Anyway, when electrons jump between shells, they do not cross the empty space between shells, but rather just appear in which ever shell they jumped to. There is no in-between. This is what convinced scientists that such transportation is possible. And scientists have successfully transported special subatomic particles across distances by creating twin particles and using them in a way similar to ‘twin telepathy’. Whatever happens to one particle happens to the other, and this phenomena can be used to recreate a particle that was near the original twin by the other of the twin particles. Afterwards, the particles aside from whatever was recreated are all destroyed and become energy.
And I believe that I have covered all of the weirder sciences in The Quantum Mind. If there are any other questions, please ask. I will be happy to answer them.