Weekend Vib

What do you call a person who spends his/her weekend reading about Quantum Tunneling, Socrates’ Moral Philosophy from a book The Great Philosophers, Wave-particle Duality, History of Netherlands, Summation of the Grandi’s Series and it’s cousin, and finally, a poor attempt with the Hwa Chong Ionic Equilibria Lecture Notes? Vib.

As if a single term would suffice to describe such a person. I didn’t read all those topics on Wikipedia. I mean I do that sometimes but for this weekend, I really went into the books sort of knowledge and truly understood many things that I haven’t when I was surfing through Wikipedia. While I spared myself of Schrödinger equation, I took de Broglie’s hypothesis pretty calmly and understood what it means. In fact, de Broglie’s PhD thesis presented one of the most elegant relation that I can imagine (as compared to the one that I can’t imagine, which is Euler’s Equation; ironically with the imaginary term in it), and I read about it quite long ago when I was being introduced to the field of Quantum Mechanics. Quantum tunneling is something that helped excite me further about the quantum world. I must say all the quantum thing that I was ever interested about was more to do with Unifying Theories, which I have been brought into by Brian Greene several years ago with an online version of The Elegant Universe. I seriously think anyone concerned about natural forces should watch this. I spent quite a fair bit of my Secondary 3 life pondering over the stuff the video mentioned but then exams set in and so goes Relativity, Superstrings and stuff. Now it’s time for a revival. In fact, this weekend of exploration made me visualize wave-particle as an entire continuum where you either behave like a wave because you have too small a mass that you are almost pure energy or you behave as a participle because you have too large a mass that makes your wavelength so small and undetectable. Whatever in-between are just the quantum stuff. More importantly, I suspect a connection between gravity and electromagnetism. I just have this feeling that gravity is just the ‘electromagnetic’ counterpart of particles.

Then on to Socrates, I discovered how his idea of man being creatures of perfect rationality (but not wisdom) is actually coinciding with economic thought. His ideas banished Altruism almost entirely, by suggesting all good is done to cultivate one’s soul and gain happiness. Well, from a Kantian perspective, if you believe in Socrates, just twist the whole means-end thing around. I do have my doubts about Socrates but I must say that his spirit is absolutely commendable – exemplification of a rather ideal moral person, though his wits and playful rhetoric often work against him in terms of him being a philosopher or at least a pillar of thought. To put myself in his shoes, I suspect he would rather be a commoner, forgotten, rather than to be father of philosophy itself. I guess unless philosophy is purely a study of techniques of inquiry, Socrates should not like his position as the ‘father’ at all.

Finally, the mathematics I have just to learn to appreciate is really fun! Grandi’s series, and a whole lot of mathematically counter-intuitive stuff has helped make it less rigid. I mean, for a pseudo-arts-quasi-science student like me, it wouldn’t be fun for me if there was a universal and perfect answer to every problem in the world. I truly enjoy the fact that we can sit down and discuss whether the sum of a particular series should be this or that, or whether the series converges to a particular number. That’s more Mathematically Vib, or Vibbishly Mathematical whichever you would prefer. The (1 – 2 + 3 – 4 + 5 – 6 + 7…) series actually sums up to (in the Euler’s revised definition of summation sense) a quarter! Can you believe it?

While reading a lot of crap brings down your grades quite very occasionally, I do enjoy the moments of epiphany of realizing how Superfluid defies gravity (it’s quantum jiggling supersedes it’s tendency to form solids; or to put it in another way, the quantum rule against non-motion of the particle overcomes any potential inter-atomic forces), or why on Earth would an electron orbital consist of two spaces with a node of discontinuity in between and yet the electron can move within the two places simultaneously. I do hope to be a Polymath but that can easily cause myself to stray into the abyss of a ‘Jack-of-All-Trades (And Master-of-None)’. Well, I’ll just explore what I like for the moment.

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