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  #1  
Unread 02-17-2020, 12:51 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Default The Wave Function of the Universe

Heartbeats

They tell me, world, you’re waves—unreal.
Yet when I love you, gray or bright,
I hear the wind, my heart, and feel

like the shimmering chimes of a glockenspiel.
When I watch the stars on a luminous night,
you, my world, appear unreal

till a katydid, a bobcat’s squeal
or the hoots of a barred owl out of sight
quicken my heart, and then I feel

I’m gliding on eagle wings. I wheel
above the stream, the willows—light
as neutrinos racing through space. Unreal?

Though it’s doubtful I shall ever peel
away your veils, when you invite
my quarks to swing with yours, I feel

the milk in the Milky Way, the steel
in my Oldsmobile, a drifting kite
or a finch in flight—unreal and real
as the wind and the heartbeats that I feel.


L7: "a bobcat's squeal" was "a vixen's squeal"


Note: This is a revision of a poem I've posted once before.

Last edited by Martin Elster; 02-22-2020 at 04:32 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 02-17-2020, 09:16 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Martin, yes, the waves are very wavy and seem immaterial, and what's more amazing is that each is associated with some kind of "particle", which at the higher energies act more and more like particles. The particle for a low frequency (ha) AM broadcast radio station can be as big as an airliner, but we don't sense them.

Our colors don't exist in nature, our sounds don't sound high or low or drummy or even horny in nature, our tastes and perfumes are just our body's way of distinguishing different arrangements of molecules, and our thoughts... Other animals see polarized light, ultraviolet, and sense magnetic fields. What does the earth's magnetic field smell like? What does a human beauty look like to a varmint? A lovely human voice sound like to a bustard? And a beautiful mind, coupled with a stupefyingly attractive personality? All are constructs of central (and distributed) nervous systems.

You gotta be a human with a human body to know. Accept no substitutes (robotic or "sold only on TV"). You gotta be there or have been there.

Last edited by Allen Tice; 02-17-2020 at 09:19 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 02-17-2020, 10:18 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Thanks, Allen, for saying these things. It makes me think you got the central gist of the poem, and I’m glad that it got you thinking about waves and “particles” and all the senses of ours and other critters and how they are, in a way, emergent approximations of reality (which is fundamentally fields and excitations within the field, which we call “particles”). Whether the air feels cold or warm to us is just how we experience the slow or rapid random movements of all the gazillions of molecules that make up the atmosphere around us.

“You gotta be there or have been there.” Yes!

Added in:

By the way, one of the many things I find quite interesting about the universe and life is entropy.

For reasons nobody knows, the universe (at least our region of it) started out with very low entropy. It was extremely simple. You can compare it with a cup of coffee. You put some milk in it. At that stage the milk and coffee have not mixed yet. It’s in a simple state and can be easily described.

After a while the universe starts becoming more and more complex. The milk begins to blend with the coffee. Eventually, the state of the coffee reaches maximum complexity. It’s not easily described.

That’s where stars and galaxies and complex life happen. That’s the era that we are living in. We are lucky to be here and observe it.

After another long while (a trillion year perhaps), the universe (or our region of it) will reach maximum entropy and there will be no more stars and no more usable energy. The coffee will be totally blended and no interesting things will happen. At that point it will once again be very simple and easy to describe. (This is assuming that the dark energy will not change its value.)

I find all this fascinating. We are living in a time where we can observe and speculate. The only time in the universe’s history that it may be possible to do so. And to write poems about it.

Last edited by Martin Elster; 02-18-2020 at 08:52 AM.
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  #4  
Unread 02-21-2020, 04:28 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Thanks again to Allen for being a brave fellow and commenting on this poem. But I sure wouldn't mind hearing from any other courageous folks.
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  #5  
Unread 02-21-2020, 05:09 PM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
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You've largely succeeded with this ambitious poem. The more I read it, the more I like it. There are many highlights and the last stanza is especially good, although its first line could be made a little smoother. How about "as milky as the milky way" as an emendation. Your choice, though.

In contrast to Allen Tice, who seems to have well-defined ideas about waves and particles, you are more reluctant to say what's there behind the veil. Not that Allen is wrong, but the world is unknown and unknowable on almost every scale. That we know as much as we do is a bit of a miracle. Speaking of bits, a Higgs boson has about 125 times the mass of the proton. The wave associated with a particle can be bigger than a bus, but the path of the particle is randomly determined. And then we get to the spooky stuff.

Here's what Dickinson has to say about it.

Great streets of silence led away
To neighborhoods of pause.
Here is no notice, no dissent,
No universe, no laws.

She has other lines as fine as "neighborhoods of pause," such as "the suburbs of a secret" and "acres of perhaps," which seem to bend or blend space and time.

Last edited by Tim McGrath; 02-21-2020 at 10:48 PM.
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  #6  
Unread 02-21-2020, 08:29 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Thanks, Tim, for stopping by and letting me know your feelings about this. I’m pleased you think it pretty much works. Thanks also for the Dickinson lines. They really are amazing. They not only bend space and time, but also my mind!

I appreciate your suggestion of the Milky Way line. I like it, but it would make the line pentameter, and I want to keep it tet. So I’d rather have it a bit bumpy than to change the line length.

I’m glad you mentioned not lifting the veil, since that, I think, is the heart of the poem.

Though quantum mechanics is a great achievement (which explains everything about our environment and the atoms in us — electromagnetism, the strong and week nuclear forces, and the Higgs boson — there are so many deep mysteries that even the best minds in physics and cosmology have not yet twigged. For example, the relationship between gravity and quantum physics. (Some scientists speculate that the more entangled two regions of space-time are, the "closer" they are, and the less entangled they are, the farther apart they are, which means that space-time emerges from quantum entanglement.) Other examples include not being able to see earlier (and therefore further) than the cosmic microwave background radiation, which happened around 380,000 years after the Big Bang. There is also the embarrassment (after something like 70 years) of not understanding how it is that the wave function of a system suddenly “collapses” upon an “observation,” a wave turning into what looks to us like a particle at a definite position or state. One interpretation is the Everettian (or Many Worlds)* interpretation (the universe splitting each time there is a quantum change). Entanglement is so unintuitive (“spooky action at a distance” as Einstein called it), yet is the foundation of quantum mechanics. And there are other puzzles. We don’t (yet) know what the dark matter or dark energy comprising most of the universe is. Many mysteries!

You could probably tell that I like watching science documentaries and podcasts and read about these things.

*The many-worlds interpretation (MWI) is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that asserts that the universal wavefunction is objectively real, and that there is no wavefunction collapse. ... The many-worlds interpretation implies that there is a very large—perhaps infinite—number of universes. —Wikipedia
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  #7  
Unread 02-21-2020, 08:45 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I apologize. I didn’t want to scare anybody. Instead of airliner, I should have said football stadium. I used to count off high-voltage electric transmission towers or read my car odometer when thinking about low-end AM radio wavelengths. No other excuse.
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  #8  
Unread 02-21-2020, 08:53 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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I like this line a lot, but would delete "the" -

like the shimmering chimes of a glockenspiel.

These lines are also good:

the milk in the Milky Way, the steel
in my Oldsmobile, a drifting kite
or a finch in flight—unreal and real
as the wind and the heartbeats that I feel.
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  #9  
Unread 02-21-2020, 09:46 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Hi, Allen (again) and Mary,

Thanks for your thoughts.

Allen - A football stadium might not even be as long as a gravitational wave (depending on the source). Am I right?

Mary - Thanks for letting me know which lines you like. I suppose I could delete “the” in L4, though I felt that the definite article would give “chimes” the kind of meaning such as “and feel / like the timbres of a cello” or “and feel / like the colors of a rainbow” as opposed to “feel like / colors of a rainbow,” which sounds odd to me. But I’ll think about it!

Here is an article I just found and read, which I think may interest Allen and Tim (and maybe other folks).

Could quantum mechanics explain the existence of space-time?

https://astronomy.com/news/2019/05/c...-of-space-time

". . . investigations along these lines have revealed a surprising possibility: Space-time itself may be generated by quantum physics, specifically by the baffling phenomenon known as quantum entanglement."
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  #10  
Unread 02-21-2020, 10:33 PM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
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Merry Mary Meriam is a very serious woman. I thank her for introducing me to Charlotte Mew in another thread. "And the eyes were not always kind."

Alan is a comedian as well as a numerologist, adept at both ends of the spectrum.

Martin, as befits a musician, you are a Pythagorean, so you should stick with math. As Allen would be the first to tell you, the quantum is a rabbit hole. But yes, you are right. A gravity wave can be as long as a thousand kilometers, or about 600 miles. But ponder this, my friend. The wave function of the universe is bigger than the universe.

Last edited by Tim McGrath; 02-22-2020 at 02:34 AM.
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