Spending time alone, when everyone else is allegedly doing something more fun than you are, is OK. For a while. It does tend to create an uncertainty vacuum, however. With comparatively little to actually focus on, the mind tends to drift in and out of chaos rather like a Bose-Einstein condensate at very low temperatures. For a little tutorial on the fifth state of matter, click here. Or not, as you like. Small incidents capture the attention, like probability spikes on a graph, only to be relinquished by others, no more or less important, which provide brief, sometimes hilarious focus.
Which reminds me of a joke. It’s not new, and physicists might appreciate it rather than anybody else…
Werner Heisenberg, the Uncertainty Principle guy, was pulled over by a police officer, who asked him, “do you know how fast you were going?” Heisenberg replied, “No, but I know exactly where I am.”
The cop sneered and pulled out his nightstick. “You little smartass,” he said, and laid into Heisenberg pitilessly with the stick. “How long will this beating last?” cried the forlorn Heisenberg. “I don’t know,” said the cop, “but I know exactly how much energy I’m expending.”
H’m. I really don’t know where I am in church at the moment, which if the Uncertainty Principle applies to spirituality, suggests that I know exactly how fast I’m going. Well, no, actually. It seems others might perhaps be experiencing similar difficulties. The hiatus created by the summer creates its own black hole, into which we slip, unannounced, for indefinite periods. Not even light can get back out. It’s unsettling.
The image is a representation of the BEC produced by rubidium 87 atoms at 170nK. Jolly cold.