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kottke.org posts about Brian Skinner

Everything is made from something

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 21, 2015

In A Children’s Picture-book Introduction to Quantum Field Theory, Brian Skinner explains quantum field theory — “the deepest and most intimidating set of ideas in graduate-level theoretical physics” — as if you and I are five-year-old children.

The first step in creating a picture of a field is deciding how to imagine what the field is made of. Keep in mind, of course, that the following picture is mostly just an artistic device. The real fundamental fields of nature aren’t really made of physical things (as far as we can tell); physical things are made of them. But, as is common in science, the analogy is surprisingly instructive.

So let’s imagine, to start with, a ball at the end of a spring.

(via @robinsloan)