math after the nothing machine

Got up at 9:30 am. Made drawings, how the installation will look like. Feels good to plan things.

Went to CQT at noon. Met Björn on the floor. Our last appointment failed. He talks with someone – obviously complaining on a lack of time. Although, I ask him about another appointment. Companying some jokes, he passes over to Kilhan – to show me the lab.

We go downstairs. I have my camera and recorder with me. Kilhan looks for Paul, to explain me the gadgets. I record  everything on audio-tape. Paul explains nicely, how the cooling process of atoms work.

The atom gets shoot by many photons (from the laser-light). Paul explains it with a bigger and a smaller dot. The bigger dot is the atom – the smaller a photon. Atoms are usually moving around a lot (maybe has to do with ‘Braunsche Molekularbewegung’). Some are faster, some slower – as the curve shows.

If photons (small dot) hit this moving atom (bigger dot) – it slows down. At the same time, this means the atom cools down. Until is becomes very still. Usually they use (rubidium?) a metal gas, covered in a glass cube and infra-red-light, that is invisible to the eye. Mirrors and small glass-cubes, looking like modern-design crystals – they reflect the light and changes directions of it.

Paul says, that they just set-up the experiment and there is nothing really new, so far (I asked again, what is astonishing to him). After some thoughts, he shows me a machine, that produces: nothing. In space is nothing. And they create a small amount of space, by sucking out all air and heating up the nothing, that only few atoms are around in the gadget. I explain, that we will have a series on nothing in Dresden and that I like this installation a lot.

Kilhan comes back – we wonder around the CQT to find a place to speak, but it turns out that she has to leave to the airport.

I update and print-out new signs for the board-meeting – hanging them up at the Quantum-Café. When John asked, if I am secretly installing artworks – to him I would be capable to do so. That is actually a big compliment, probably he said this without imagining this. Only, that my actual work was far more boring. I take the offer for communication and join John and John to ask them about their work. See if they would have astonishing things for me and the cabinet.

John and John explain to me why two balls create a mathematical space of five dimensions. And that a curve flattens when this 1:3 ratio occurs. John H. turns coins for me, to show what it is about. I feel sorry, that I can not approach easier – they have to explain a lot.

(This reminds me on Pythagoreanism and their Musica Universalis – but too hard to say in English. They believed that our world is built of different ratios, that refer to music as well. They were a very music-based cult. But maybe has nothing to do with Johns explainations)

Someone made a computer-model to simulate the one-ball-rolling-on-another situation. Actually this sounds more logically to me, that you need to describe ‘more’ space (levels, dimensions) if you want to determine a position of something. I was always wondering, how time and space can create a four-dimensional (actual physical) space?! Because time is already existing within physical space. Hm, anyway. But from what I understand now, it that it is just a model to describe a geometric problem. That would make much more sense!

We also discuss that probability and the invention of complex numbers, which are important concepts for Quantum Physics. Complex numbers changes the prediction within probability to a funny behaviour. I guess, this is what I heard in Toulouse, when someone explained to imagine a bus where passengers randomly change their positions all the time – this would be a quantum vehicle. I liked this example a lot.

Also I ask John and John if they need a mental image to understand something, or if they can understand something only by their equations. John B. says something really interesting, that I don’t know, but can only imagine: Some mathematicians need mental images, but others only understand something by following rules. Even without meaning of these symbols or words. I can not think of any situation where something like this happened to me.

When I calculate – I just add images (seeing a number as an image – e.g. “2”), to another image (“3”), that I know belongs to (“5”) a third one. It is a bit like playing “Memory”. Of course you can have different memory cards of different shapes and mix them together by applying different rules. But still the only feeling that I have is – you are happy if you find something, that matches somehow. Or like picking mushrooms. My brain predicts from the image, that is caused by the shape of the underground, light, shadow and dry leaves were mushrooms could be. I calculate them without seeing them. When I see something, that matches to my calculation – I am happy. But maybe this story was just my failure to feel how it is like to understand equations. It is not, not that I have Dyscalculia, at least I somehow managed to get my high-school-graduation – even in math. Although I was really contrary. Only one time I had a good math teacher, for half a year. The rest was boring and stupid. I just wanted to survive these lessons, that was all. One of them tried to convince me, that I would need math, because I have to calculate the amount of paint, that I need for my painting. This is still one of the worst explanations, that I have ever heard, besides I didn’t wanted to study painting, but sculpture. There are some occasions where math is happening within the arts – but certainly not to calculate paint for a painting.

For me it needed some years of recovery from school, to study philosophy and an interest in various parts to overcome this contrary. I can still feel it, when someone (in that case the Johns) explains math to me. Now, that I write this I remember that Manfred Spitzer a German psychologist and brain scientist, working on learning processes, pointed out, that if someone has negative feelings while learning something, he/she will always reproduce these negative feelings, when applying the knowledge, because it is sort of ‘entangled’. I guess I understand now. It was the same with Physics, English, German, Geography – even Art was a very mixed experience in school. Only half of the teachers was good. Today, in Germany they wouldn’t be allowed to teach, as they did when I was in school. Its good, when these things changes. I have to deal with people as well, that reproduce negative feelings from school. It comes with the phrase “I can not draw/paint”. My boss in Wuppertal then said, “Everyone, that can hold a pen, can draw.” – but actually there is more behind this story. I guess it is one reason, why I teach at the University of Dresden. That finally more children get better Art-teachers and less young people will have to say this phrase. And we, the Artists, will get a more sensitive and better educated audience, that asks interesting questions.

Later on, I asked the Johns, who invented numbers and calculation processes. So they explained it with sheeps – how people probably counted them and got from counting to calculation.

John B. suggested an idea for the Cabinet: ask people at CQT to draw abstract concepts such as qubit, entanglement or non-locality. I told him, that I like this idea, that I thought about doing the same with ‘black bodies’. Somehow we drifted from ‘black bodies’, to Malevich and from there to Robert Rauschenberg’s empty drawing called  ‘Erased de Kooning Drawing’, that John B. recently saw.

We had an intense but nice talk. Unfortunately I felt sometimes dizzy in between. Therefore decided to go to bed early (at midnight).

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