storytelling the future
light and the uncertainty principle

light and the uncertainty principle

If, as in Hiebert’s observations, light fades into darkness, darkness contains light and vice-versa, then, light is both one and its opposite. isn’t it the story that is also told us by quantum mechanics?
light is both particles and waves, while active viewing causes light to change its behavior. the principle of uncertainty immediately comes to mind.

this is an issue of particular interest to Krister Shalm, a physicist doing his doctorate work on the quantum study of light, and wrestling with  the difficult task of “painting quantum pictures of light.” More specifically, his research deals with finding an effective way to visually render triphotons particles.
the complexity of the above task lies in the very nature of light, famously defined as both a wave and a particle (a quanta of light, or a photon)
to complicate things, during the polarization  (the direction of oscillation of a wave of light) process, different polarizations are traveling through a material with different velocities, causing the polarization to rotate.




The scientific team Krister Shalm belongs to, leads experiments to build up quantum polarization states where 3 photons are polarized and  manipulated so that they are now entangled, forming one “particle”.

given the uncertainty that dominates the nature of light, as well as the scale and the complexity of the experiment, several  problems  arise, as not only is there is no real analogy in our real world that explains light and its functioning, but it is actually very difficult to represent it in a visual form.
Nonetheless, coming up with a visualization and animation technique that rendered several layers of complexity and simultaneously represented the motion and the position of triphotons has been a major goal for the U of Toronto team. In fact,  while to get a most complete description of a sunflower one can analyze its genome,  a picture of a sunflower is worth 10000 DNA genome representations.


standard visualization

an alternative to previous triphotons representation, the current new technique
appears as accurate as accessible to an audience who does not necessarily command quantum mechanics or is not aware of the above light experiments