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Diaries

You are in: Leeds > Students > Diaries > Quantum theory and New Year's Eve...

Che Seabourne and Bay the dog

Che Seabourne

Quantum theory and New Year's Eve...

...not your normal diary fare but Che's first diary in a while sees him wanting to talk about disparate things!

Given the lengthy period of time that has passed since my last submission, it is statistically quite improbable anyone reading this will have any recollection of my previous ramblings. It therefore seems prudent to offer a brief reminder...

I came back to my former home town of Leeds, originally to study for a Chemistry PhD, but now in materials science - technically speaking. Therefore this might be an appropriate juncture to discuss work a little bit, without boring people totally!

Erwin Schrödinger

Erwin Schrödinger

Some time ago, a scientist devised a rather famous thought experiment involving a cat. To very crudely summarise: A cat is placed in a sealed box - which we cannot see inside – for a given period of time. Within the box is some toxic mechanism (best not to go into this in too much detail!!) which means that there is an equal chance of the cat being alive or dead after that period of time.

The key point is that until one looks inside the box, we do not know whether the cat is alive or dead. It exists in some sort dual state of being alive or dead. (For those who are interested this is called a 'quantum supposition'). The real point of the thought experiment (for me anyway) is the remarkable nature of science at the quantum level – it is driven by probabilities.

This mythical cat belonged (as it were) to the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Significantly, when not proposing peculiar thought experiments, this seriously talented scientist devised an equation describing (on the quantum level) space and time relationships for particles. Initially, this was thought to be the solution to a variety of problems. Unfortunately, the equation can only be solved exactly for systems with one electron. For any other system, approximations must be used.

These approximations form the basis of a number of computer codes that our research team use to solve and model a variety of phenomena. Things are going relatively well with this, though admittedly I am quite busy at the moment trying to submit work for a special edition of a journal. What motivates me to keep going is that this really would be very worthwhile if we are successful.

Meanwhile I've kept up my various musical past times, mainly the operatic affairs of Leeds Youth Opera. February 2008 sees us performing Mozart's 'Idomeneo'. Set in ancient Crete after the Trojan War, the story revolves around a complex love triangle, and the relationship between a son (played by a woman in this instance) and a father.

In other news, I suppose I ought to make brief reference to the passing of the New Year. For once I spent a very nice evening with one of my good friends and her family. Those that know me well will be aware I do not normally enjoy New Year's Eve, but I did have a genuinely good time. This may not have been overly obvious to people given my generally quiet nature, mind you!

On a more general theme, I do tend to think nothing changes all that much in the New Year. Certainly, I am not one for making resolutions I cannot possibly keep. In the interest of humour there are a few related ones I might well have suggested to myself:

• Deliberately not mention that I am a science student. This instantaneous causes people to think you are a total bore. This may well be true of course!
• Work out why when you access the University of Leeds webmail service from an external machine, there is always a certification error… (yes computer geekery).
• Take up darts. One hundred and eeeeeeeiiiiiiiiggggghhhhhhttyyyyyyy!
• Sell something on Ebay. Purely so that I can see someone write something delightfully inane next to my name such as "A+++***+++  - top Ebayer, what the site should be all about. A must!!! A1!!!"

Happy New Year!!!

last updated: 18/01/2008 at 12:51
created: 18/01/2008

You are in: Leeds > Students > Diaries > Quantum theory and New Year's Eve...

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