I remember the first time I saw a magnifying glass. I was absolutely fascinated by such an object. It allowed me to see so much more than I could normally (even then, when I could actually see something without glasses or contacts). It was the most amazing thing I had seen until then. Well, what was an amazing discovery for me, had been around for ages in human history. Lenses and objects which resemble magnifying glasses date back four thousand years! But of course, our curiosity is boundless, we humans always need more. I quickly found myself wanting to see even deeper into this weird, amplified creatures. Fortunately, humans didn’t wait a lot to yearn for better resolutions.
This post was written during the 27th installment of the Quark Matter conference held in Venice in May, 2018.
Today, in Venice, the sun does not shine, it roars. Yesterday, the city was completely soaked as a storm paraded through it, giving thunderous signals of its arrival. But today golden hues flood the air, contrasting with the shadows of the trees near the Palazzo del Casinó. The wind blows calmly and the smell of sea salt fills the air. Outside, the sea hums, the boats sail, and the tourists roam the streets of the islands in search of a taste of the past. I am sitting outside of the venue of the conference, drinking a coffee, admiring the day, and admiring the excruciatingly white buildings in front of me.
It is an amazing, yet often overlooked, feeling to go out of your house, fully clad in summer clothes, look up to a blue sky and a bright sun and knowing it will be like that all day. That a storm will not suddenly pop up and ruin your grilling and make you walk soaked to your house, right?
Well, we owe that nice feeling to the countless meteorologists that devote their lives to studying the weather and also try to apply that science to everyone’s everyday life. This is a fundamental property of any scientific theory: prediction. Or in weather-like slang, forecast.
But how is this forecast done, and how is it related to many body physics?
Science can be sometimes daunting for the unexperienced. Have you ever seen a scientific talk, or read a paper? There tends to be a lot of jargon flying around, circling the speaker to then buzz aggressively around the audience before it goes out the windows into the oblivion of the coffee break.
We really should have started with some fancy quote, spoken in the past, and reverberating into the ages to come. But we didn’t. So let’s start instead with a small experiment. Fill a cup with something. No, not coffee, we know you were thinking about it. Something clear. You need to see through it. You also need to have some little pieces of something floating homogeneously around in your cup, like chia seeds once they are really squishy, or that weird aloe drink they sell at the supermarket. The latter, in fact, proves to be the best for this experiment.