Don’t let the fact of Mr. Kirill Shtengel being a cute guy to distract you, just read his article. It’s a free ride to WhatTheHeckUniverseAreWePopulating and What Are These People’s Brain Made Of sort of interrogations.
This is one of the things I do when I am disturbed by my own (dis) functionality. Trying to force myself out of myself by saying hello to other worlds. The more hermetic the worlds and their language, the better and faster my own recovery. Curiosity killed the cat, but in my captive case, it saves it every single time. Well, at least it did so far and I am very grateful to my best friend for reminding me tonight to rely again on my curiosity as my best feature.
When I try to decipher this sort of things, I am at first overwhelmed and scared (what is quantum mechanics anyway?), annoyed (this is difficult English for me), anxious (do I really need to do this? Don’t I better try a pill or something?), not really interested (I will not understand anything anyway), resentful (they are really smart, not like me), rebellious (can’t they put in some extra effort and make this comprehensible for average Joe? I want to know what’s going on with the world too!).
Do you already see the analogies with our condition in here? If not, I will elaborate them again later, but let me first introduce the goal.
I know I am facing the unknown in its best materialization while reading this type of articles or when I am opening a book written in Spanish (El Pelegrino, for example) while I don’t speak Spanish or when I’m trying to draw Cyrillic letters while I don’t have a clue of their meaning. My premeditation to go through with it is dictated by the fact that fear of unknown doesn’t have a specific trigger when the person suffers from panic disorder or, as in my case, of post-traumatic stress disorder (which has anxiety and panic attacks as common symptoms). Therefore, while I cannot change my fear, at least I can change the type of “unknown reality” I am anxious about it.
I don’t know if this could work for people with general anxiety disorder (different from panic disorder), but I think is worth of a try. It’s my own experimental self-cure and it’s mainly caused by the fact that I cannot possibly take medication for my condition – I tried for a month or so, searching for the one that fits, but I had to quit. Therefore, I have to use my brain, my will, and my entire being to find solutions for recovery. Can I really have any hope of success here? I don’t know. But I know for sure the journey is fascinating, however excruciatingly painful it gets at the times. Did I have success so far? Well, yes and no. From several attacks per day that lasted few months I managed to have none for another two months after. But it started again recently and I’m back in business of being my own guinea pig and exploring new paths.
As an ambivalent person, I am laid back with most of the things, but meticulous with everything that requires reasoning. I have to dissect it in order to understand it; otherwise I’ll not accept or integrate already digested recipes. Mr. Shtengel here has an amazing approach (from small to big, from simple to complicated), one that could be an inspiration for everybody, not only for people like me. If you and I can get over the difficulty of understanding the subject discussed and the language, I think we can be in for a cool ride.
What do you first notice when you’re done with the first paragraph and then after, but until it starts using numbers? (If you don’t like this article, find another one or another activity that is totally new to you, the steps will be the same and listed behind parenthesis) Let me list them neatly, so you can easily ad to the list or make your own, inspired or not by mine.
1. The “smiley approach” (the overall tone of it). There isn’t much of a scientific language at the beginning. Funny thing, the author uses essays techniques to catch the reader’s attention and I dare to say a very simplistic language. The quotation made me smile also, just read it and say it isn’t so. “it might tell us much of great interest about the strange phenomena that occur in complex situations”. In other words, following Alice into the Rabitt Hole it might not tell us much about the white rabbit, but we might find interesting things about the complex world of dreaming of a queen of spade.
2. Now, the words used by science (the aestetic of things), look at these beauties! Bosons and Fermions. I mean, come on, what could it be more magnificent than Fermions, whatever they are? Close your eyes and experiment what the first man felt when invented the first word. He mumbled bodon, modon, closon, troson, soson, BOSON, evrika! Maybe he was looking to baptise his dog, the first animal ever tamed by humans. Fermions sounds like an unicorn name to me. Abelian and Non-Abelian is pure poetry, Moral and Amoral, Being and Non-Being. “You, abelian morning, rise from the night’s womb and wrap yourself with imortal light”. Huh.
3. The content, the subject, the message conveyed (and if you’re playing Pictionary for the first time, what is the game all about?). Can you translate it to another person, as new as you at this game or as uneducated about a subject, as I am right now about quantics? Let’s try it. You have two bosons who interact, therefore if you draw their interraction as a wave form, you’ll end up with a symetrical wave. If you play with fermions, the wave will not be symetrical. Do we really need to know what fermions are so far? It’s the principle that matters for now and, in fact, our ability to overcome the fear of unknown by spliting up the unknown in small bites.
Now read this and tell me science is not actually user friendly: “In two dimensions, swapping the positions of two particles in a clockwise manner is distinct from doing it counterclockwise. “ Well duh, dude, it’s pretty self explanatory that if I move from left to the right is different than moving from right to the left.
Tell me if you don’t already feel better about yourself and your anxiety isn’t almost completely gone by now – that’s because your mind is occupied with something out of yourself and you start getting excited by this “Unknown” monster who is slowly taking the shape of a beautiful story under your curious breath.
All you need to do is to ease yourself into taking the first step of a “smiley approach”. Tell your fear you’re not her enemy, but just a stranger who is as anxious about strangers as the anxiety itself. Then try to tell the anyons’ story using your own words and working your brain to simplify what you read or use graphics to depict what is said – and by sharing, you move your focus to somebody else, you already serve another person in need to understand what the heck is this cute Mr. Shtengel talking about in here.
Transform the story if you want. Compared with scientists, we don’t have any responsibility to stick with the factual truth, but with the emotional one.
So far, I do understand that when you throw some electrons into the captivity of low energy, then the show starts – electrons pretend to be anyons, for some reason. The lower you go, the more alchemic shows you’ll see. The deeper you dig, the more white rabbits you’ll see.
Is your anxiety gone yet? How do you feel now? ‘Cuse I’m feeling quantic.
Sleep well, live well, my friends.