Tuesday, May 29, 2012
That's What Matter Does
Blogger EBL linked a striking photograph yesterday in honor of Memorial Day. I'm putting it here to make another point. Notice how all the gravestones line up in a regular array:
Now focus on just the gravestones and mentally factor out the trees and the slight unevenness of the land. Pretend it's perfectly flat and that you are at eye level with the gravestones. Depending on which way you look, you can see through the array--even all the way through. This is what matter does too (atoms and molecules) when it crystallizes. Order ensues as the one becomes a greater whole. The individuals buried at Arlington are united in a common whole. But unlike the men and women buried in each grave, each atom in a crystal is essentially the same, and we can get insight into the structure of the one by shining light on the whole.