Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A young string theorist in Oregon

I received an e-mail from a colleague of ours in Oregon that is pretty cute. ;-)

dear Mr Motl

My name is [A. K.]. I am in grade 4 [10 years] and live in Oregon.
My teacher said in class something on particles we are made of. I asked her more about particles but she did not say more.

I used google to search for more on particles and saw strings
as what particles are made of. I used google to look for more on strings which showed a book by Brian Green and Micho Kaku. I got my dad to get me the Green and Kaku books. The Green book is harder to read. The Kaku book is easier. I find neat is how the world is made up of particle and small strings. I ask my dad and mom for more on strings. They did not know much.

I want to know more on strings. Some string web pages look like math
I dont know. I want to do strings with math. The Green Kaku books do not have the math I saw on some string web pages. My dad says the math is algebar and calculus. He got me the books algebra for dummies and calculus for dummies. In some pages I can get answers from moving symbols around. I do not know why I get the right answers. I do not see how the math is done in strings. There is alot Kaku and Green do not say?

I used google to find more on strings and saw your name on lots of
web pages on strings. I want to do strings when I am older. How do I go and do strings? What do I have to do? Do people do strings for a job?

School is very boring and easy. Particles and strings look
exciting and neat to me. I want to learn more. I have nothing to do outside school. What did you do to learn strings?

[A.]

1. Did you tell him to knot off? ;-)

2. Wow. I'm a phys undergrad and I am trying to find out the same info. :)

And his review of Green is spot on.

3. Lets say the story is true.:)

From my perspective, "minds" who know well to work within such "abstract realms," have just been given witness to what could arise out of the innnocence of a child's questions.

What is the nature of reality? Why the sky blue?:)

Not to discourage by those who wish to stop such advances, and shout, "don't concern yourself child. Do more useful things. Shut up and calculate." I am busy. Good mothers have to keep fathers in line. :)

I would think herein lies the lesson, even for those who are more then the gleam of a Dad's eye.

Make available, as the lesson furthers. Let the child grow, by asking. Encourage.

Would you take away his "building blocks," if you thought the bridge unrealistic in your mind, could possibly in the mind of the child, be built by them?

"Fertile ground" added wth love blossoms the inquisitiveness of any mind. :)

Sorry, I speak as a Father who has seen some of the generations evolve from him.

Most fathers, of "this and that," have more then just their egos and arrogance at stake?

Nice to see this entry.

4. It is a nice entry, reminds me of explaining extra dimensions to my 7-year old. He said they must be diagonal. Four of them were in the 2D projection I was using. I said three went straight through the paper. He said they must be a point and I said yes at the center. I tried to explain the diagonal by tilting the corner of a box and saying you can get the diagonal by drawing this on a sheet of paper. He didn't say anything so I may have been guilty of, as my wife (an elementary school teacher) would say, TMI (too much information).

5. Hey John,

Maybe start off with something much simpler?

Like point at the sun, then having aquired a prism, find a piece of paper, and allow the light to find itself there in all it's regalia?

Maybe there will be a time, when what we had seen on that paper, will have said, that having seen these "little photons" travelling all over the place, they actual came here, for us to see?

However you want to divide up the colors, is a personal thing?:)

6. Reminds me of my attempts to explain the universe to my daughter (7yrs). True story...

Daughter: "Dad, if God does not exist where did the world come from?"
Dad: "Oh it sort of condensed out of a cloud of dust left in space after a supernova"
Daughter: "Daadeee! That's even worse than the last time you told me"
Dad: "Eh why? What did I say last time?"
Daughter: "You said it came out of a big bag."

I think A.K. is doing rather better but then he is older isn't he? :-)