Thursday, March 25, 2010
THE HUNTING OF THE QUARK
"Scaling down to an even less momentous moment, we greet the attosecond, a billionth of a billionth of a second, or 10-18 seconds. The briefest events that scientists can clock, as opposed to calculate, are measured in attoseconds. It takes an electron twenty-four attoseconds to complete a single orbit around a hydrogen atom - a voyage that the electron makes about 40,000 trillion times per second. There are more attoseconds in a single minute than there have been minutes since the birth of the universe. Still, physicists keep coming back to the nicking of time. In the 1990s, they inducted two new temporal units into the official lexicon, which are worth knowing for their appellations alone: the zeptosecond, or 10-21 seconds, and the yoctosecond, or 10-24 seconds. The briskest time span recognized to date is the chronon, or Planck time, and it lasts about 5 x 10-44 seconds. This is the time it takes light to travel what could be the shortest possible slice of space, the Planck length, the size of one of the hypothetical 'strings' that some physicists say lie at the base of all matter and force in the universe."
An email arrives from our pals at Delancey Place. It quotes author Natalie Angier. I cannot contain a zeptosecond in my mind, but I want it in my spellcheck. The above paragraph washes over me like found-but-soothing poetry. But I know the soothing will be real fucking finite, lucky to last a yoctosecond in the ever-present-meanwhile where the world of cognitive dissonance hurtles to the random doom of cognitive distortion. I do not think, therefore I wonder if I am. Cable news plays behind my back, a bubbling stream of commercials and the news of the insane. And yet, even in amid this massage of madness and insecurity, I can almost be convinced the madness is mine.
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The secret word is Membrane
Posted by Mick at 3/25/2010 02:54:00 PM