October 17, 2012

The Weird Little Photons


Alexander Pope is credited for being the first to suggest that, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Despite my lack of expertise on the subject of photons, I find them so intriguing, I am willing to risk a walk in a perilous Louisiana swamp of alligators to examine them briefly.

Recently, French Physician Serge Haroche and American David Wineland won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics for devising methods to study the highly unusual properties of these smallest measures of light. In the weirdness of a quantum world, for example, photons can be in two places at the same time and can spin diagonally, vertically and horizontally___ all at once.

Reports suggest that even quantum physicists don’t understand, so how can we mortals? Even so, let me attempt to summarize by suggesting photons can be described as strange little pieces of light which break all the rules of classical physics.

In the first chapter of Genesis, we read, “God said, “‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” And in his book, Ripples in the Cosmos, astrophysicist Michael Rowan-Robinson suggests, "The universe was born in a blaze of light." 

We look to the Heavens and we observe infinite light, a reality that defies logic and reason. Haroche and Wineland study tiny bits of light, that also defy rational thought. Both are  creations of the Master of the Universe whose love, power and presence in our lives are also beyond our comprehension.  

Michelangelo, the greatest living artist of his time, summarized my feeble attempts to express faith in the creations of a good and gracious God with this quote:
“I live and love in God’s peculiar light.”