Friday, June 29, 2012

Return of Geeky Find Friday! Quantum Physics Dress

Last summer I posted my favorite "geeky find" on Fridays. I had so much fun scouring the interwebz for all things geek. Due to popular demand, I'll be bringing it back! It probably won't be weekly because most of the time I find myself with too many things to post about, but I'll try my best to give it a go at least once a month.

Quantum Physics Toddler Ruffle Dress by Waycooltshirts on Etsy

Geeky Dress

Here's the description:
Can you say "How adorable and brainy!" in the same breath?! Your little darling will light up the room with this bright and precocious dress with curly edges at bottoms of ruffles and sleeves.
This is our “Kids Chic-Ghic™”!

It’s never too soon to start teaching your kid about atoms and quantum physics—not if you would like the little tyke to grow up to become the next Albert Einstein (ok, the next Carl Sagan…ok, ok, the next Neil deGrasse Tyson)! So instead of warbling the usual macabre Mother Goose version of “Ring Around the Rosy” with those mysterious lines (what do they mean anyway? and what’s with the “ashes”?), you could be singing this 21st century version of "Rings Surround the Rosy" just as easily and your child will have just as much fun pretending to be the collapsing wave function! (Better than crumpling of the plague…no?) And then you can begin: “Now, Honey, everything, including you and me, are made of these tiny little bits called atoms….”

Cheat Sheet for Parents:
Rings surround the rosy: We are calling the center (nucleus) of the atom, where most of the stuff is (neutrons, protons, etc), the “rosy”. Elections swirl around the center in rings of differing energy levels (also called shells), creating a cloud of electron rings.

Electrons are supposy: The big change from Newton’s classical physics to quantum physics is that scientists can no longer predict the specific outcome of an experiment. At the sub-atomic level, all that can be predicted is the overall resulting pattern of elementary particles and the probabilities of where electrons will land, but not the actual destination of just one particle.

Dashes – Crashes: In an experiment, the particle, maybe an electron or a photon or an ion, is emitted from a source ("dashes"), like a flashlight or um, a Large Hadron Collider, and sent “crashing” onto some sort of measuring device, like a cardboard screen (our particle detector).

Wave function collapses: Once the particle has crashed onto the measuring device and we can measure its position, all the other possibilities of where it could have landed vanish. The wave function is an equation that represents all the possible places the particle could have landed, and has now “collapsed” into one reality.

OK, you real physicists out there, maybe this is simplified and controversial, but good enough to get the kids’ interest? Parents, this process is usually illustrated via the famous grade school double slit light experiment which I’m sure none of us properly respected when we first saw it. If we did, we would have spent our childhoods wondering how that other photon KNEW there was a second slit open?!

I love that Waycooltshirts goes so far as to explain the whole thing! I just might have to get this because I agree, it's never to soon to start teaching your toddler about atoms and electrons ;)

Have a geeky find to share? E-mail me at

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