QED – a poem by Kate Rauner

Bosons carry force
Among the fermions
Flying back and forth –
Colliding with the masses.
All these interactionsFeynmann_Diagram_Gluon_Radiation.svg
Exchanging many photons
Exceed our calculations –
The math beyond our grasp.
A million million histories
Are not enough to tell
The pathways are a mystery –
Too many to envision.
When all the paths are added
Results become absurd
Infinity of masses –
Of minuses and pluses.
Infinities that run to right
Infinities to left
Yield answers that are finite –
Renormalized at last.
From these results we can’t predict
The math seems somewhat dubious
But once electrons are fixed –
The method is a triumph.
Weak nuclear combines
With electromagnetism
But strong nuclear we find
Evades with gravity.
Strong nuclear is parallel
A similar approach
But gravity is physics hell
Somewhere Einstein chuckles.

I’ve read many attempts to explain quantum physics without the mathematics. I’m currently reading The Grand Design by Hawkings and Mlodinow and I like it a lot. The tone is casual, the diagrams helpful, and the many cartoons are a lighthearted touch. If you’re a non-physicist, read this book, even if you’ve read other explanations. Remember Richard Feynman once wrote “nobody understands quantum mechanics.” But it has never failed a test, and if all that testing says it’s so, then it is so. The quantum world exists outside our intuitive, common-sense experience, so forget all that and follow the proof.


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