Recently, I had a video chat with the kindergarten class of Dragon Bay Kindergarten in Beijing. It was a lot of fun to see how excited the children and teachers were to read my books. They even had an entire Science Fair based around my Physics for Babies books!
During our video call, the students and teachers asked many questions. I’ve transcribed them here.
How can I see atoms in the real world?
We can not see atoms with our eyes. They are too small. We can use other ways to take pictures of atoms. In the labs where I work, physicists shine laser light on the atoms. The electrons take the energy to move up in their energy levels. When they fall back down, they release light that we can see with a camera.
Can you introduce particles and entanglement to us?
Atoms themselves are made of even smaller things called particles. Electrons are one kind of particle. Not all particles make atoms though. Photons, what light is made of, are another kind of particle which is not part of an atom.
Entanglement is tricky to explain in everyday language. It is something we see in the math of quantum physics. Even scientists today argue about how to understand it. But, we can use the math to show us how to build quantum technology where entanglement is used.
What does an atom look like? How are they different?
Electron microscopes take pictures of atoms which look like blurry little balls. Most atoms look the same but some are bigger than others. When electrons move between energy levels, they send out light at very specific colors. Each atom makes a different color, which is how we can tell them apart.
How do you know everything was made by atoms?
We can see them with today’s technology!
How can I touch the atom?
Since everything is made of atoms, you are touching them right now!
Why don’t you wear the clothes of a physicist?
In pictures of scientists, they are often wearing lab coats. In real life, physicists do not wear lab coats. Some work in a lab and others, like me, work in an office with computers and whiteboards.
What made you think that babies need to learn about quantum entanglement?
A lot of science is a language which we learn by listening and talking to other scientists, just like learning your first language. So, the sooner you start to hear the language, the sooner you will speak it.
Will entangled particles always be measured the same or can they just be influenced?
Entanglement has a quality to it which might not make it perfect. Experimental technology is always a bit unreliable. But perfect entanglement, like that described in the book, means that particles will be measured the same every time.
Do your children like and understand your books?
My children like the books and can often repeat some of the sentences. I talk with them about it, but they will not be doing any quantum physics research yet.
How does your work place look like?
There are labs. Some use lasers which means they must be dark. Some have big refrigerators which keep things really really cold. Above the labs is office space. Here it looks like a regular office, but with whiteboards that have lots of math on them.