Skip to content

Archive for

quantum cycling … and the butterfly effect

It begins with a butterfly on a thistle plant along the side of the road as I ride by.  I think about a book I am reading and discussion of Edward Lorenz’ Butterfly Effect, as in chaos theory … and things like quantum mechanics and other principles of physics that I will confess I have a miserably inadequate understanding of – quite unlike my son, the soon-to-be-physicist.

We’ve had a brief window of opportunity to do some riding together before he leaves again to continue his summer research in Nashville.  I love having the chance to ride along and talk.  On quiet roads, we are relatively free from distractions and interruptions (except, of course, when I make him stop so I can take pictures).  The conversation unwinds like the curve of the road, rolls along, changes direction, circles back.  Sometimes serious, sometimes not.  Laughter almost always manages accompany us.

Recently I asked him to help me better understand the different branches/disciplines of physics – kind of a “Physics for Dummies” type of explanation.  While I have a very rough understanding of the research he is doing and where his interests lie for grad school – theoretical/computational high energy particle physics  –  I will confess that I am mostly clueless about the different fields of study within the physics world.

And, of course, he absolutely knows this – as he rolls his eyes, sighs, and tries once again to explain it to me.  I listen as he patiently tries to describe and define – and eventually I get lost.  Again.  So in the simplest of terms (yeah, even a cavewoman like me can understand – kind of… maybe?) this is roughly how he described a few concepts to me (and I hope I am recalling this correctly?) :

Classical/Newtonian Mechanics:  big slow things

Relativistic Mechanics:    big fast things

Quantum Mechanics:   small slow things

Field Theory:   small fast things

String Theory/M-Theory: un-testable things

Do I have any better understanding of any of this?  Probably not.  If nothing else,  I may have at least figured out that I am probably not a Quantum Cyclist (small and slow), but more of a Classical/Newtonian Cyclist (big and slow).   I hear you laughing, Mason…

I will keep reading, I will continue trying to learn more and understand.  In the meantime, I will just take a photo of the butterfly, and let my son figure out the rest.

Random scenes from recent rides – big, small, fast, and slow… all the usual suspects. Happy Memorial Day.


The month of May brings big changes here at home, and sadly, not so much blogging.  It has been proud parent days again, with my youngest son graduating from High School last week.  My three older boys all arrived home from college, and our home was filled with family and boxes full of college “debris” (which, among other things, included epic amounts of dirty laundry … sigh).

We’ve done some biking, but I’ve tended to leave my camera on the shelf.  My beloved husband is also recovering from a shoulder injury/collarbone fracture (a story for another day).  Spending some time catching up with my boys, our family, has been my priority as the three oldest are about to leave again for summer research positions at various universities near and far, and my youngest begins his own college orientations and preparations.

Time is short; departures begin again next week.  Blogging, Flickr and all other cyber things are taking a back seat – at least for a few weeks.

Bikes, biking, cows and old barns will be back soon … hopefully with a few new surprises in store.

The Graduate:  soon to be mathematics student in University of Tennessee Chattanooga UHON Honors Program … Congrats, G!  You are the awesome-est!

Be back soon …!


#30daysofbiking … riding each day for the past thirty days,  the entire month of April.  Is there really a finish, or a completion – or is it just the continuation of  a routine?  To me it is collection of snapshots –  memories of moments on a bike each day, not unlike all of the other days throughout the year.  I don’t keep statistics (distance, hours, speed, etc.); I prefer to keep the images as reminders of things seen along the way, because these are ultimately the only things meaningful to me.

I posted a 10-frame gallery containing one snapshot for each of the thirty days of riding, condensed into the classic snapshot format of the “Fauxlaroid”  Some images you may recognize from prior posts; the collection of originals are in my Flickr set.

Tomorrow begins the next thirty days … and beyond.  Cheers.