Atom Wave: Universe Machine

Atom Wave

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Universe Machine

I am your god now! Forget the Large Hadron Collider, today you and any other egotistical maniac on your Christmas list can be satisfied with the Universe Kit by San Francisco artist Jonathan Keats. This kit includes a marble of weakly radioactive uranium glass and a scintillating crystal, the rest you do yourself.

I know, it sounds far-fetched and it may very well be. You don’t need to take it literally. In the science of Quantum Mechanics, the Copenhagen Interpretation says that every particle exists in a superposition of states. Take for instance a single radioactive uranium atom. Radioactivity is a random process; it is practically impossible to predict when a certain atom will decay. In the Copenhagen Interpretation, the uranium atom is both decayed and radioactive. You don’t know its final state until you observe it and its waveform collapses.

In 1957, the physicist Hugh Everett disagreed with this view. In his interpretation, instead of the wave function collapsing, the universe splits in two. Under this view, literally everything that can happen will happen. In another universe, the Soviets beat America to the Moon. In another universe, George W. Bush never did rise to the Presidency.

This kit is available through the Modernism Gallery gift shop in San Francisco for $20.

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