top of page

A Strange Old Bench

My latest work I've decided to call "A Shady Bench". I've always been fascinated by the way light affects our surroundings. You might be thinking 'Well he's supposed to think like that, isn't that what artists always rave on about, light?', and you would be right. But I'm going a little deeper when I say I am fascinated by it.

I have a scientific background which informs much of my thinking, so when I watch how light behaves it is exceedingly strange. We take light for granted because without it we would, literally, not be able to exist, but even though it is considered energy (a waveform) it acts like a particle (mass).

Scientists refer to light in terms of photons (packets of energy) which is a BS way of saying that the dashed things don't behave as they should, simply stated, as energy.

So this gets me thinking about Quantum Mechanics which intuitively doesn't make much sense unless you check the Math. But photons are very very small (which is colossal understatement), so that inevitably lands us up in the esoteric world of Quantum.

Electrons also exist in the quantum world, but they do possess some measurable mass. Nevertheless, they have occasion to annoy us by doing weird things when we try to examine them individually. Measure individual eletrons and you alter their nature, and that being so, one can only work with their existential probability (and this is so for every subatomic particle, even the enormous Higg's boson).

The science is that we can know that electrons will be in certain places more often than other places OR we can know an electron's direction of movement (i.e., its spin - but I'm not going any further with that.) - but we cannot measure both at the same time. So we rely on its probability of being where it is supposed to be for most of the time. Scientists can build up a picture of an electron's likely whereabouts in a kind of fuzzy looking matrix (sometimes referred to as it's orbital region in an atom). Forget those nice neat concentric circles with dots you learned in High School Chemistry. Below are electron orbitals of the simplest atoms. Electrons are supposed to exist in there somewhere most of the time - or are they ;)


For those of you who are still reading at this point - because I'm sure you have better things to do :) - my understanding, which is by no means cutting edge (a little help physicists?), is that it seems electrons appear to be mass more often than they break up into a waveform. My question is then, are photons more likely to exist in waveform but every so often coalesce into mass? I never got an answer to this riddle (I would usually be told 'because light is energy, dunderhead!')

I have observed when I am painting how odd light is and that even when we paint the effects of light our eyes are seeing this strange quantum dichotomy? I was particularly struck by it when I painted my bench where there is interference on the edges of the slats of the back of the bench as if the light is being deflected by them and thus altering its appearance to my eyes.

Or is this just me ;)

"I don't like it, and I wish I hadn't had anything to do with it!"

Erwin Shroedinger (Pioneer of Quantum Mechanics)

bottom of page