What’s the matter?

We all learned that matter is anything that has mass and takes up space. Our teachers told us there are three states or phases of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Some of us with cool high school teachers or college teaching assistants learned about another state: plasma. Then there were those of us who wanted a degree in physics who learned there were many more. Extremely low temperatures yield superfluids, supersolids, Fermionic condensates, and Bose-Einstein condensates. Particle accelerators give us quark-gluon plasmas. Stars hold degenerate matter, neutronium, and strange matter. And then there are a few states of matter associated with the instant after the Big Bang.

I found this article about a newly discovered form of matter.

MIT physicists create new form of matter. CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — MIT scientists have brought a supercool end to a heated race among physicists: They have become the first to create a new type of matter, a gas of atoms that shows high-temperature superfluidity.

It’s always mind-boggling, the things that happen at the extremes of temperature, size, time, speed, or distance. If one day we are able to harness these phenomena, our civilization will undergo a paradigm shift. Our lives will be forever changed in a qualitative way, rather than the incremental way that normal technological advancements tend to do.

For now, though, we can only watch these things from the window of the hovel we’re confined to. Taunting us, prodding us, these extreme behaviors educate us that our day to day experience on Earth is only a tiny subset of the complexity of the universe.

The true power of the Force

(Note: Sorry to be a little late with this. It’s been a busy Spring as you will see!)

I’m not well-schooled in the kinds of gestures that sweep women off their feet. Angie knows this, and yet she’s still with me after nearly four years of dating….

A few months ago, I started to get really excited about Star Wars: Episode III. I wanted nothing more than to see it with my best girl. I downloaded the theatrical trailer and played it over and over again. In fact, nearly every time she would visit me, I would have it in a Media Player window, awaiting my command to play again. At first, she teased me about it.

Angie was not interested in Star Wars movies when I met her. In the years I’ve known her, however, she started tolerating them. Before long, she actually started appreciating some of them. Then, finally, she gave in to the Dark Side and became nearly as excited as I was about seeing the final episode. Now that’s love.

Anticipation mounted in the days leading up to our trip to the Old Nichols Theatre in Kansas City to see Episode III. We watched Episodes I and II in the week before. We had a few good-natured sparring sessions with our toy lightsabers. And we watched the theatrical trailer again.

The big day came, and Angie and I began our odyssey. We stopped to eat a light lunch along the way, and when we got back to the car, that’s when she noticed the lightsabers in the door side compartments. I explained that there will be lots of people wearing costumes … probably. It took a lot of convincing to get her to “think about” wearing it on her belt as we went to see the film. She told me afterward that she went round and round in her mind for the rest of the car ride whether she would wear it for me into the theatre. That turned out to work in my favor.   Continue reading The true power of the Force