Planck E PressCenter Articles

The Bell-Curve and the Neutron

Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Date published: 2024-01-26
Date modified: 2024-01-26
Reading time: 00:01:14

Author: Patrizia Tomasi-Bensik

The Bell-Curve and the Neutron

“A map is not the territory and is not as interesting as the territory.”

Amit Goswami


Mathematics is so absolutely beautiful that it constantly leads us to confuse map and territory.

Take, for example, the bell-curve that so fascinated Mandelbrot.  The bell is nothing more than a probability function.

It is from this highly abstract simplicity that I would like to evaluate the state of a neutron.

When we imagine an atom, whose symbol still -mistakenly- reflects an arrangement that imitates the solar system, we imagine the protons and neutrons in the nucleus.  If we have a little more knowledge, we can visualize quarks, which bring peace to our vision and compensate for the impossible inequality of masses between the components of the nucleus.  Then, as in the wrong symbol, we imagine the electrons orbiting this nucleus.

Everyone has been doing this for so long that we don't even recognize the absurdity of the symbol or the representation of the atom as an attempt to materialize something so abstract that its treatment in the original quantum mechanics only covers its possibility.

And then we define the elementary particle.  The neutron is a probability function.

Yes, it is.  We do not have an adequate vocabulary for the quantum world, so we use -roughly- the expressions of our reality.  Roughly, because in the process we end up giving the bizarre occurrences of the quantum world the same characteristics as the material in our daily lives.

The neutron is not a very -but a very- tiny ball.  It can be a wave, it can be a particle, and if we give up our dichotomy, this manifestation that we observe in a bubble chamber could have seven hundred other forms of expression.

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