In April 2010, the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull spewed great ash clouds into the sky and caused enormous disruptions to air travel in Europe. The eruptions are best remembered for this inconvenience, but photographer James Appleton managed to capture the event in a different way. In the weeks before the disturbances, a vulcanologist friend of his alerted him to the unfolding volcanic drama, and Appleton travelled straight to the Icelandic mountain before it was closed off. Risking his life to battle extreme cold, high winds, and seismic activity, Appleton captured a rare but gorgeous scene: the glowing lava from an Eyjafjallajökull fissure with the Northern Lights—Aurora Borealis—overhead. These are two very different light sources, so “the photograph needed parts of the scene selectively blocked for sections of the exposure to balance the contrast,” Appleton recalls. “A Mars bar wrapper came in handy for this!”
What is Quantum Physics?
Quantum physics is a branch of science that deals with discrete, indivisible units of energy called quanta as described by the Quantum Theory. There are five main ideas represented in Quantum Theory:
- Energy is not continuous, but comes in small but discrete units.
- The elementary particles behave both like particles and like waves.
- The movement of these particles is inherently random.
- It is physically impossible to know both the position and the momentum of a particle at the same time. The more precisely one is known, the less precise the measurement of the other is
- The atomic world is nothing like the world we live in.
While at a glance this may seem like just another strange theory, it contains many clues as to the fundamental nature of the universe and is more important then even relativity in the grand scheme of things (if any one thing at that level could be said to be more important then anything else). Furthermore, it describes the nature of the universe as being much different then the world we see. As Niels Bohr said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”